dad, and they're the first people you should go to when you have questions about what's going on and what's going to happen.
Jackie, whose folks split up when she was 8, says that, "At first, it's hard because you don't know which parent you're going to live with." Not knowing important stuff like that can make a hard situation even harder.
If you feel this way, it's important that you try to get answers from your parents, even if you're mad at them and don't
feel like being around them. They've probably been talking about the divorce with each other, and will have a lot of
information you need. If your parents are okay with being around each other, try to set up a family meeting to ask questions. If it's difficult being around both of them at once, talk to them one at a time.
As Jackie found out, things can get a lot better once you know more about what's going to happen.
Here are some important discussion questions you might want to ask your parents about their divorce.
- Why exactly are you getting a divorce?
- Is one of you going to move out? If so, when and where?
- Will I be able to spend time with each of you after you get divorced?
- Will the three of us ever be together? Or will I be with you one at a time?
- Will my time with you be equal, or will I spend more time with one of you?
- Who will I be living with? Will I be staying where I am now?
- If we move, will I be able to keep going to the same school and seeing all of my friends?
- Exactly how will visitation work?
- Am I going to be meeting with a judge? Lawyers? Social workers? How will that work?
- How will you share the responsibilities of raising me and helping me grow up?
Once you get the answers to these questions, and any other questions you can think of, the future will probably seem less frightening. After all, when we know what's coming up, we can get ready for it!
Tell your parents what you need and want from them
Communicating with your parents about the divorce doesn't just mean asking them questions. You've probably got a lot of things to say to them, too. You might feel like they're so caught up in dealing with each other that they may be overlooking your very important wants and needs. It can happen, because divorce is a sticky business, and your folks have a lot to worry about. You shouldn't be afraid to let them know that their actions and decisions have a big effect on your life, and that there are some things you need them to do for you.
Here's a list of some of the things you might feel like saying to your parents.
- I want both of you to be a part of my life. One of you may be living in a different house, but I don't want to lose touch with either of you. I need love, advice, and guidance from both of you. Please remain close to me, even if you can't stay close to each other.
- I don't want you to make me choose sides. I love both of you, and even though only one of you will probably be living with me, it would hurt me very much to have to choose who to love. I want to be on both of your sides.
- I don't want you to act jealous over me. If I want to be with one parent for a while, it doesn't mean that I love that parent more. Please don't be jealous or ask me not to spend time with one of you, because being with both of you is very important to me.
- I need you to talk TO each other, not THROUGH me. I don't want you to use me as a messenger. If you have something to say to each other, meet face to face, send an e-mail, or talk on the phone. When you tell me messages to deliver, especially about important stuff like legal issues or child support money, it puts me in the middle of a very awkward situation and makes me feel bad.
- Don't ever use me as a spy. Please don't ask me personal questions about each other. It's not my job to report on one parent's behavior or moods to the other parent. It makes me feel bad when one of you asks me to keep an eye on the other or to report anything I might see.
- Don't ever use me as a way to hurt each other. I don't ever want to be used by one parent against the other. If one of you is mad, you can't get even by not letting me visit the other. You have to work out your problems and leave me out of it.
- When you talk about me, try not to fight. When you have to discuss issues about me, please try not to shout or get angry. This makes me feel like I'm the source of the problem, and it makes me feel sad and guilty.
- I don't want you to be mean to each other. It would hurt me to see you be cruel to each other. Please don't fight in front of me, or talk bad about each other when I'm with one of you. I want to know what's going on between you, but I don't want to hear complaining or mean talk.
Another great way to express yourself is to write a letter to yourself or your parents, or start a journal.
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