They say 50% of marriages end in divorce. The statistic was only a number until my family became a part of that statistic. They say as we get older, we handle divorce better. They say it is easier. They say not a lot changes. Well let me tell you, those are big fat lies–divorce hurts. No matter what age you are.
If you are watching your parents go through a divorce, I am so sorry. No matter how bad the relationship is between mom and dad, EVERY child wants to see their parents happily married. It is really easy to feel alone, especially because it is hard to admit to your peers that your family isn’t doing well.
Although I would much rather write about happy thoughts, divorce affects everyone whether it’s your family or a friends. Hindsight, these are the survival tips I would have given myself and I hope they bring you peace as well.
Don’t blame yourself. The choices your parents have made do not reflect you. Even if the choices that seem to tear them apart revolve around you, it’s not really about you. Sometimes a bigger problem will disguise itself in a smaller problem. You are not the problem. They are adults and have to take responsibility for their family.
Raise your white flag. Hateful words might spew from their mouths accusing one another. They might want you to pick their team, and sometimes it’s going to be hard not to. Seeing your parents hurt is really hard. The person they vowed to spend the rest of their life with is theirs no longer. Don’t try to fix it, because that is not your place. You are not responsible for making one person change.
Cry. Let it out.
You are not their counselor. It is inevitable you have seen your parents do things in their relationship that was the wrong way. But do not make the mistake of trying to counsel them. This may be the most helpful thing you can do for your parents. They are still the parent, not you. If they need help, they need to find it from another adult–NOT FROM YOU. Even if they get mad at you for not wanting to counsel them, let them get mad. It is not healthy for either of you to have a turned around relationship.
You are not alone. There are so many people out there that have gone through divorce, which is very sad, but true. Don’t wait to talk to someone about what you’re going through. Seek out a school counselor, a youth leader, a mentor, a teacher, a coach, or adult in a healthy marriage right away. When your whole world is falling apart, it really helps to have someone to help you put the pieces back together.
Marriage can be beautiful. Please do not lose hope in marriage. When we see our parents go through something as hurtful as divorce, we don’t want to go through it ourselves. It is easy to have a skewed idea of marriage when we’ve seen it end in disaster. But the good news is we are not our parents. Marriage can be one of the most beautiful, life giving, relationships between two people who come together as one. So, please don’t stop dreaming of building a healthy family in your future. They do still exist.
Give love freely. The best way you can love your parents is by forgiving them for putting you through this. The way you show love will be unique to the situation you are going through. For this reason, it is important to have a mentor helping you see the truth from the lies.
Life gets messy sometimes. But no matter how dark the day might appear, there is always a hope for a new day. You are going to come out on the other side of this stronger. You are loved. You are not alone.