Hey Brandon, I really need help! My parents are getting a divorce! I’ve been staying up past midnight, reading books on divorce, like It’s Not The End Of The World by Judy Blume. But it IS the end of the world! My mom’s taking my siblings and me to Las Vegas! That’s like…a thousand miles west! Please help!!
Distressed By Divorce Drama
Hey Distressed By Divorce Drama,
I am SO sorry you’re going through this. You’re totally right – it IS a big deal.
You are NOT alone. Around half of all marriages end in divorce, so a lot of kids struggle through the break-up of their families. But just because a lot of kids go through this, it doesn’t make you feel less alone, confused, and upset. I totally get that.
Divorce is super upsetting, and even if it’s the best thing in the long term, it’s going to cause a MAJOR change in your life. And to have a cross-country move on top of it? It must feel like EVERYTHING is changing. And it kind of is.
Except… let’s make a list of things that AREN’T changing. I don’t know your life, but I’ll start you off and give you some ideas:
- Your parents still love you. No matter what has changed with their feelings toward each other, they both still love YOU. That hasn’t changed and that won’t change.
- If you have siblings, they love you and need you. You shouldn’t have to feel responsible for your siblings, but be aware that they are probably struggling through a lot of the same things you are. Be there for each other.
- You are still YOU. Whatever that means. Are you an artist? An athlete? A bookworm? The things that are important to you might not feel as important now, but honestly? They’re even MORE important. Because keeping up with them will help you feel like you can rely on something normal. So, try to keep up with the things that you enjoy. And if it’s something like playing soccer or taking piano lessons, use the internet to start researching the options you’ll have in your new city.
I’m not saying, “Think positive and it’ll be okay!” Because the truth is, it’s really hard and it’s going to stink for a while. You’re obviously sad, and stressed about the move and the changes, and you might feel angry at one or both parents. You might be afraid of all the unknowns, worried, or even feeling guilty. (Feeling like the divorce is somehow YOUR fault is COMPLETELY NORMAL. But when two adults decide to get a divorce, that is 100% between them and has NOTHING to do with you. There’s nothing you could have done to change how things turned out. I promise.)
I hope you have someone to talk to. It’s okay to tell your parents you’d like to talk to a therapist or counselor. Hopefully they can make that happen for you. If they can’t, talk to someone else you trust. Maybe an extended family member, or a school guidance counselor. Maybe the parent of a friend. All the feelings you have are totally normal, but it’s important to express them to someone.
A cross-country move would be stressful even without the divorce. And your parents might be so distracted with the divorce and their own preparations for it that they might not notice how stressed out everything is making YOU feel. Try to talk to them about it. If you’re moving to Las Vegas because your mom has family or friends there, ask if they can send you photos of the neighborhood you’ll be living in, or photos of some of their favorite places to go and things to do in the city. You can also research online, like I mentioned above about the activities. You can check out the website for the school you’ll go to, find out about local sports teams, arts or scouting activities you might like to be a part of.
I know that even if you end up deciding Las Vegas is awesome, it’s still going to be really far away from your dad. That’s super hard. It might help to make plans now for when he’ll visit you and when you’ll visit him. Set up a schedule of when you’ll Skype or FaceTime. Plan to send him pics of your new room, your school, and all your new favorite spots, to feel like he’s involved.
There’s going to be a lot to get used to for everyone. And it IS a big deal. Throughout all the changes, try to keep your routine as normal as you can, and take care of yourself. That means getting good sleep (*cough, cough* maybe not staying up past midnight?), eating good food, and making sure you exercise. You might also see if your school, community center, or place of worship has a support group for kids of divorce.
And if you’re a reader, which it sounds like you are, here are a few more books with characters going through divorce:
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
The Divorce Express by Paula Danziger
Sport by Louise Fitzhugh
The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli
The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It IS going to be okay. But it’s normal and healthy to feel how you feel right now.