overwhelmed and think that you'll feel this scared and confused forever. Here's the good news: there's stuff you can do to make things better.
Admit that it's real
Moms and dads usually wait to tell their kids about divorce until they're absolutely sure that they're going to go through with it. You might wish really hard that they'll forget all about it or decide to change their minds, but it probably isn't going to happen that way.
Derek is 12. When his dad told him that he and his mom were getting a divorce, the situation was so strange and new that Derek felt like he was suddenly living someone else's life. Who can blame him? It's natural that when you're facing something as serious and scary as divorce to get the weird feeling that it's not really happening. It may feel like a bad dream, or a movie. It's okay to think this way at first, because your brain just needs time to deal with some very big information. Eventually, you'll have to admit to yourself that divorce is real, and the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can begin to adjust and find ways to deal.
Look at your feelings, and then let them out
Let's look at the emotions that most kids facing divorce have felt:
- Anger: You may be mad at your parents for putting you through this, or mad at yourself for not being able to fix things.
- Fear: You could be scared that this means your parents don't love you, or scared about the changes that are coming.
- Denial: Denial means pretending something isn't real. You could be trying to convince yourself that the divorce isn't going to happen.
- Confusion: You may feel like you don't understand your parents, or your life, anymore. You may feel lost and not know what to do next. You may not be able to understand why this is happening at all.
- Sadness: You might cry all the time, or have trouble finding anything to be happy about. You may be so sad that you lose interest in things you used to like.
- Jealousy: You might be jealous of your friends who still have both parents and seem to have perfect family lives. You might wish you could have it as easy as they do.
- Pressure: You might feel like, once your parents are living in separate places, you'll be forced to grow up too quickly. Maybe you think that you'll have a lot of scary new responsibilities, like dealing with money.
- Shame: You might feel ashamed about being a kid whose parents are divorced. You might think that it makes you a failure in other people's eyes.
It's completely normal to feel any or all of these feelings. The important thing is to learn that you shouldn't just bottle all of these emotions up inside of you. For example:
- If you're angry, punch a pillow or kick a soccer ball as hard as you can (never take your anger out on another person!). Write about your anger in a letter to yourself. Don't hold your anger inside, or it might pop out at the wrong time!
- If you're sad and you don't feel like playing with your friends, just tell them you need some time alone. If you have a best friend who is willing to listen, tell him or her about the things that are getting you down.
Try to deal with one emotion at a time, and understand that you have a perfect right to feel the way you do. As long as you try to understand your emotions and the things that are making you feel them, you can start dealing with them.
One very important way to deal with the things you're feeling is to start talking to your parents about the divorce, so in the next section we learn ways to Express Ourselves.