Finding out that your parents are going to get divorced is a terrible shock. Even if you were aware that they weren't getting on, you may have hoped that they would manage to sort our their problems. So hearing that they are going for a divorce makes it very clear that it's over for them. And that means big changes for you and your siblings. So how can you deal with your parents getting divorced?
1. Don't Get Angry at Them - They're Hurting Too
You may feel angry that your parents are splitting up, and blame them for ruining your life. But however angry you feel, don't hit out at your parents. They are going through a lot of pain as well, and are bound to feel guilty about the effect on you; taking your feelings out on them will make it worse. You're entitled to feel upset, but so are they.
2. They're Divorcing Each Other, Not You
Remember that while your parents may be splitting up from each other, they are not going to stop being your parents. One of them will be moving out, and it will hurt not to see them every day. But they still love you as much as ever. They're not walking out on you.
3. It Hurts, However Old You Are
Whatever age you are, watching your parents split up is painful. Even if you're old enough to have children of your own, it still hurts. Acknowledge your feelings and don't try to 'put on a brave face'. You may feel that you've got to be strong for your younger siblings, but even if you're in your teens you may still want to cry.
4. Your Life May Be Better
Yes, I know it sounds impossible to believe, but your life can actually be better when your parents split up. If they've been arguing a lot, or there's been an unpleasant atmosphere for a long time, things may improve a lot when they separate. There is a stage of grief and loss to go through, but when things settle down you may find the new situation more comfortable.
5. You're Not Responsible
Children often blame themselves for their parents divorcing. But it's not your fault; you haven't done anything to cause the split. It's true that parenthood is stressful, but you shouldn't blame yourself. Adult relationships are complicated and don't always work out.
6. There Are Big Changes Ahead, Be Adaptable
Divorce will mean some pretty big changes to your life. You may be moving house or to a different city. One or both parents may find a new relationship at some point, and you could end up with step-siblings. Christmas and vacations become more complicated. Be adaptable and learn to deal with the changes.
7. Talk to People
You may want to protect your parents and pretend that everything's fine with you. But it's better to talk openly about your feelings rather than hide them - you'll feel better if you tell people how you feel. Whether it's your parents, another relative you're close to, your friends or a school counselor, there are people out there who will listen.
Roughly half of marriages will end up in divorce, so you're far from being alone in facing your parents' divorce. It takes time to come to terms with the changes in your life, but you will cope. Talk about your feelings, accept that things don't always work out, and deal with the situation in a mature fashion.