There are thousands of kids whose parents get divorced every week. Add to that the number of kids whose parents split up even though they were never married, and you wouldn’t think it would be too hard to find people who are dealing with similar experiences. Despite all that, many times when our parents split up we feel like the only one in the world going through it. It seems like there is no where to turn and no one to talk to.
That’s one of the reasons we created I Am A Child of Divorce – so kids and teens whose parents are split up would have a place they could go to find information and other people who have at least some idea what you are going through. To do that, we’ve created all kinds of ways for you to connect and to begin to heal from your parents’ split. We want to bring some of those ways to your attention. Some are new resources, some have been totally redone to meet your needs better, and some have been around from day one. Regardless, here are a few ways you can connect with others and get help as you deal with the fall out from your parents’ split:
1. Online Support Group for Teens: We recently totally rewrote our online support group for teens to make them more accessible to you and allow you to work at your own pace. The teen support group consists of four zone, each with five modules, that tackle the issues and emotions faced by teens after their parents divorce/separate. Each module offers a variety of ways to dig deeper into what’s going on and move towards healing. Each module includes a self-guided interview, videos, a continuing narrative and resources. You can take advantage of as many or as few of these options for each module as you’d like (though we do strongly recommend that you at least complete the self-guided interview). In addition to these options, we have a confidential chat session in a private chat room every other week for people in the group. These sessions generally cover two modules but are flexible enough to cover just about anything you need to talk about. Each online session is led by a facilitator who serves to keep the conversation moving.
2. Confidential Facebook Group: Facebook may be that thing you stopped using once your parents got an account, but it still has some useful features, and we’re using one of them to help connect directly with you and create connections with others who have walked, and are walking, the same path. We created a brand new confidential Facebook group for teens and young adults whose parents are split up. In this group you can ask questions, share your stories, seek advice and even help other people out in responding to their questions. This group is private so only members of the group can see what you post, and we ask that all members keep things confidential in order to encourage people to be open and honest with what they are going through. You have to request membership, but once you’re in you can post and comment as much and whenever you’d like.
3. Ask Us: This is probably one of the neatest and most underused tools here on I Am A Child of Divorce. Anyone with an e-mail address can ask a question about whatever is on your mind or your heart, and one of our experts will get back to you with a personalized reply. If you are a member of I Am A Child of Divorce and you are logged in to the site, your questions are also password protected. Otherwise, just use the same e-maill address and you can access your old questions and our answers.
Many children report that they just can’t concentrate on school, or just don’t care, since they found out that their parents are getting a divorce. Many see a decrease in their grades and test scores, and some take years to “catch back up” if they ever do. If you find yourself in this situation, there are some steps you can take (or you can ask your parents to take) to help.
Talk to your teachers, and let them know what is going on in your family if your parents haven’t already done that. Chances are that they care about you, and they will be willing to help you with your work through this difficult time. Whether it is more attention, more time to complete assignments, extra tutoring or just a listening ear, whatever they are willing to offer can help you both with your school work and with getting back into a pattern. It might not seem like it now, but eventually many aspects of your life (like school) will get back to a normal pattern, and your teachers can help you to get through this difficult time until you get back to that pattern.
Find a trusted adult to talk to about your emotions and struggles related to the divorce. When you keep all of that bottled up inside, your brain tends to focus on it leaving little brain power for homework and school.
Talk to your friends. If they know what’s going on, they can help you study, give you notes when you “zone out” in a class or need someone to explain something to you.
If you’re having trouble concentrating, force yourself to take detailed notes in class (even about those things you already know). If you make this a habit it forces you to concentrate, and as an added benefit, it might help to keep your mind off the divorce for a little while.
Tell your parents that you are struggling at school and why. They might not be in a position to help you, but at least they won’t be surprised by it.
Try to get homework done as soon as possible. Life is crazy right now, and if you leave your homework to the last second, there is a good chance that something, or someone, will come up that keeps you from getting it done.
Get a planner. Let’s face it, you’ve got a lot going on in your life and a lot to keep track of these days. Get a calendar or a planner to keep track of where you need to be and when in addition to your homework.
Fund time to be a kid. It’s easy to get so caught up in what’s going on with the divorce that you forget your primary job – to be a kid. It’s ok to take time to have fund and run and play with your friends. Give your brain a break from worrying about the divorce and it will be in better shape in terms of doing your schoolwork.
If your parents are separated or divorced, there is no doubt that you have experienced times of sadness. If left unchecked, that sadness can easily grow into depression, and depression which is not dealt with can sometimes lead people to think about, plan or even attempt to take their own life (suicide). If you are considering suicide, please know that no matter how hopeless things might seem right now, they will get better eventually. And, no matter how much it might seem like no one really cares, someone cares about you because those of here at I Am A Child of Divorce care about you. We are so sorry that you are dealing with so much pain in your life that you have reached this point, and we want to do anything we can to help you.
If you are thinking about suicide, please take the following steps:
Call a suicide prevention hotline to talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) will connect you with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area anytime of day. You can also find an online chat feature at their website which is available from 2:00 PM to 2:00 AM Eastern Standard Time every day. Outside of the United States, check out the International Suicide Hotlines page at Suicide.org for a list of hotlines by country.
Find a trusted adult that you can talk to. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone in your family, talk to someone from church, a teacher at school, a family friend or some other trusted adult. Let them know that you are hurting so much that you’ve thought about taking your own life.
Seek professional help, a counselor or therapist can help you to work through the pain you are experiencing. They can’t change your circumstances, but they can help
If you feel like you may actually attempt suicide, try not to be alone. Having someone with you can reduce the possibility of any impulsive actions.
Stay away from anything that you might consider using to hurt yourself.
If none of these options work for you, call 9-1-1 or check yourself into your local emergency room.
Yikes. What a tough question! Divorce is tough, and divorce hurts. There is no doubt about that. Perhaps your parents are in the process of finalizing their split or maybe they’ve already been separated for years. Either way, it is a healthy exercise to look for the positive even in really bad situations, and you will find it beneficial to think about any “good” things that might come have come out of this situation. After all, if life hands you lemons…make lemonade, right?!?
My parents divorced 20 years ago. I was 4 years old at the time. If you asked me then, I would have told you that nothing good can come out of divorce. Looking back though, there were some positive things.
#1 Less Yelling (sort of)
Many times you will find that parents yell a whole lot prior to a divorce. If your parents are going through a divorce or are divorced now, you might look back and realize that the yelling was really kicked up a notch before they split. When parents split up, the level of fighting tends to decrease. In my case, the fighting was replaced with a strange silence that I wasn’t used to, and I enjoyed it. That’s not to say that your parents will never fight after the divorce. Some still do, but if you’ve been living the daily grind of listening to your parents’ never ending arguments, the divorce may give you some much needed peace and quiet.
Divorce is hard. When your parents split up (either by divorce or moving out or whatever your circumstance might be) you will face all kinds of challenges and new and intense emotions. The worse thing you can do is try to deal with it all yourself. This is now a burden that you brought upon yourself, and you shouldn’t have to deal with the fall out all by yourself either.
So, who should you turn to? In most tough situations in life, people will suggest that you turn to your parents, and in the midst of a divorce or separation it is important that you keep talking to them. Unfortunately, many times parents are not really available to help. They’re with too busy with their own lives or emotionally unavailable because of what they are going through in terms of the separation. Even if your parents are trying their hardest, there is a good chance that turning to them to share your emotions and frustrations isn’t really an option.
So, what about your friends? Chances are that you have friends who have also been through the separation of their parents. These friends can be a valuable resource for information or comfort or just a listening ear. A good friend can be a lifeline of sorts when you are dealing with tough times, and you are lucky if you have a friend like that. Many do not, or you are too embarrassed or reluctant to share all the intimate details of what’s going on in your family life. Or maybe you do have a friend like that, and it’s great to be able to talk to them, but they’re not particularly good about giving advice.
Perhaps you could try talking to a trusted adult or relative? If you can find an adult whom you trust to talk to and share what you’re going through with, that is an amazing gift. Many children of divorce have been helped immeasurably by an aunt and uncle, grandparent or family friend. Sometimes, though, people are reluctant to talk to you because they don’t want to be seen as taking sides or because they just don’t know what to say. You may need to pick an adult that you trust and ask them if it would be ok if you talk to them about what’s been going on in your life.
There are other options that may be even easier. There are groups available that will help you to process the emotions you are feeling and the things you are living through. Many of these groups bring together other people in similar experience along with someone to help lead the group to provide tools and insight into what you are going through. Such groups can help you to move from the pain and turmoil that you may currently be feeling to hope and healing. Look for a The Big D: Divorce Through the Eyes of a Teenager group in your area and sign up. If you don’t have a local group, or you prefer something a little different than a face-to-face group, we offer free online support groups for teens here on I Am A Child of Divorce. This 16 week program is conducted entirely online and will provide you with tools and advice on how to deal with your parents divorce/separation by engaging with a group of other teens in similar situations and an adult facilitator who is there to help.