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Dealing With Divorce

Dear Dr. Expert,

Yesterday my parents told me and my brother that they were getting a divorce. I don’t know why I was so surprised and upset. They fight all the time, they never seem happy, and our house is like a war zone! I have tons of friends whose parents are divorced. But, I just can’t believe that this is happening to my family. I mean, I’ve thought about it before and thought I would be relieved if it did happen. But now that it’s real, I’m so upset, and I just don’t know how to deal with it. I can’t stop crying, even at school. Please help.

Dealing with Divorce in Dawson Creek

Dr. Expert: Dear Dealing with Divorce in Dawson Creek,

I’m sorry to hear that your parents are divorcing, and I know that this is a really stressful and sad time for you. Although it seems like the end of the world now, there are strategies that can help you cope with the separation of your parents. Some teens wonder if they did or didn’t do something if their parents would be happier and stay together. First, it’s important to remember that your parents’ split is not your fault. It doesn’t mean that they love you any less. Also remember that there is nothing you could have done to keep them together.  If your parents are arguing a lot in front of you, try to sit them down at a good time and tell them to behave! Tell them that it’s really hard to hear them badmouth each other and ask them to please stop. You don’t want to be caught in the middle or take sides. It is also really helpful to find someone outside the family to support you during this difficult time. This could be a trained professional like a therapist or the counsellor at your school, or another supportive adult like a teacher or a relative. It’s also very important to take care of yourself during this stressful time. Make sure that you are eating right, getting enough exercise, and keeping good sleep habits. Also, think about the types of activities that make you feel good – hanging out with friends, sports, art, music, dance etc. – and get out and do them!  It will get easier and you won’t always feel this way.