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What did you do after your parents told you they were divorcing? What did you do when your friend told you that his/her parents were divorcing?

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Divorce: The Big Questions What exactly is divorce?
When two people get married, they're making a promise to stay together forever, and in most cases, start a family. But sometimes a marriage that starts out great can turn bad over time. The husband and

Topics on Divorce:
Getting the News
The Big Questions
Dealing with Feelings
Express Yourself
Get Outside Help
Your Friend's Parents
Things Will Get Better
From the Mentors
wife can become so unhappy that the only way to make things better is to end the marriage and start living apart. They're Mother talks to son admitting that they can't keep that promise they made. Even though splitting up is very painful and hard to do, they've decided that staying together would be even more difficult and painful.

Do hard times always end in divorce?
No. Your parents may be arguing more than usual. Or maybe they're giving each other the silent treatment. You might have even caught your dad sleeping on the couch, and wondered what's going on. Things might look bad, but you shouldn't assume that your folks are headed for divorce until they tell you so.

No marriage is perfect, and most husbands and wives go through tough times. The world can be a difficult place, and there are all kinds of reasons why parents get mad at each other or start arguing. Most of the time, moms and dads find a way to work through the problem, and things get better. So if you hear shouting or sense tension, don't automatically assume that divorce is on the way.

If the arguments last a long time and your parents can't find a way to make things better, they might decide that getting a divorce is the best thing, or the only thing, to do. At some point, they'll have to tell you what's going on, and they'll talk to you about their plans to divorce. If this happens, you have to understand that things are serious. You can't pretend it's not going to happen, and you can't just wish it away.

Some people are actually relieved when they hear their parents are divorcing, because the fighting, tension, and general unhappiness has gone on for a while. They might actually feel guilty that they're not upset! But if you know that a divorce will make everyone happier, being glad that it's finally happening is also a normal reaction.

Is divorce forever?
Most of the time, yes. In rare cases, moms and dads who have gotten divorces decide that the divorce was a mistake, and get back together. But this doesn't happen very often. You've got to understand that if your parents have told you that they are planning a divorce, it probably means that they will not get back together.

Have you ever had a bad argument with your best friend, and told him or her that you never wanted to be friends again? Then you made up a few days later and were even closer from that point on? Unfortunately, divorce doesn't work like this. When a mom and dad are at the point where they think divorce is the answer, they are past the point of just making up and forgetting their arguments. They have probably tried many, many times to make up, but just can't find a way to do it.

It's perfectly normal for you to want your parents to get back together. Many kids going though a divorce wish for this at some point. But when you cling to the hope that your parents will make up or get remarried, it can make things worse. Things usually go much better if you understand that your parent's decision to divorce is a permanent one. From there, you can move on and find ways to deal with your new life, instead of wishing for your old one back.

Shouldn't they stay together just for my sake?
No. If your parents stayed together just because you want them to, they'd be living with each other even though their relationship isn't working anymore. They would either be pretending to get along, or be fighting all the time. This would probably make you miserable!

Life is tough, even when you're living with both of your parents. You might not want to have to face living with one parent, or dividing your time between two different households. It may be hard for you to see this, but sometimes having one happy parent, or two parents who are separate but happy, is a lot better than having two completely miserable parents.

Am I to blame?
No. In almost all cases, your parents' problems are between the two of them, and don't involve you. It's common for someone to feel like his parents' divorce is his fault. Maybe you feel like your parents would still be happily married if you had just been a better kid, or gotten better grades, or done something different. Try to understand that divorce is about parents having difficulties with each other, not difficulties with their kids.

Can I fix things?
No. The divorce is not about you, so there's nothing you can do to stop it from happening. Being extra nice to your parents or working harder to be "good" is not going to fix the very real and serious difficulties that your mom and dad are having with each other. Doing the opposite won't work either; for example, acting really bad in the hope that your parents stay together to take care of you. If you make it your mission to get your mom and dad back together again, you'll only end up getting more upset.

A person is not a failure because her parents are divorcing, or because she can't find a way to make everything all better between them. Her one and only job is this: to try to find a way to be happy and healthy even though her parents are splitting up.

Next up: Dealing with Feelings


Facts about Divorce in the U.S.

  • The percentage of children living with one parent increased from 20% in 1980 to 26% in 2000.
  • Most kids live with their mothers; however, the proportion of children living with single fathers doubled from 2% in 1980 to 4% in 2000.
  • State with the lowest divorce rate: Massachusetts. Rate per 1,000 population: 2.4
  • State with the highest divorce rate: Nevada. Rate per 1,000
    population: 9.0
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