How to deal with the divorce of your parents

If you are still living at home and your parents decide to get a divorce, it can be a straining and challenging time, particularly on your mental health. Not all divorces are carried out smoothly with no conflict, and your parents disagreeing can put you as a child in a difficult and stressful position. Here are some tips on how to deal with this, and how to manage your mental health during this time and into the future.

Try not to take the decision personally

Every situation is different, and it’s easier said than done to not take it to heart when your parents decide to split. However, it is likely the issues that have led up to this point span over many years, perhaps even before you were born. Just know that in the vast majority of cases the child is put first, and your wellbeing will be prioritised.

You control your relationship with your parents, always remember that

It can feel quite daunting at the beginning of this new lifestyle with separate homes to equally split your time between your parents, but don’t let the act of trying to keep both your parents happy come at the expense of your mental wellbeing. If you feel unhappy under either one of their care, begin spending more time at the other parents house. This can be difficult to begin with, however your mental health is more important than making everyone else happy.

Likewise, the divorce may strain the relationship you have with your parents, especially if you have moved out and visit home more infrequently. Keep the series of events in perspective, as it would be a shame to jeopardise your relationship with your parents over something that had nothing to do with you. After all, we generally only get one set of parents in our lifetime.

Be considerate of their future relationships

It can be scary and unfamiliar when one of your parents indicates they have moved on to another partner, and at first you are likely to feel unaccepting of this news. However, you need to keep in mind that they are an adult and can make their own decisions, but a good parent will always ensure their child’s wellbeing is considered in the matter. Your parent will most likely begin to slowly introduce this person to you if the relationship is serious, perhaps via dinner at your house or sleeping over every now and then. Try to avoid hostility towards this person, as they are most likely nervous about integrating into the family too. They may also have children, try to engage and speak to them when you eventually meet, you never know, you might have a fair bit in common!

If you are unhappy with your parent’s new partner, or they have perhaps spoken to you in a way that you did not like, be sure to speak to them about it. Tell them what happened, and they are likely to be understanding. At the end of the day, their children should always be a priority over a new relationship.

Be supportive

Depending on the individual situation, both parties don’t always come out of the relationship equally happy. Be on the lookout for your parents wellbeing, and any signs of depression or low mood which need to be caught and dealt. Perhaps your parent may benefit from counselling to help them through, knowing your parents are both happy will also help take the strain off your shoulders.

Let others help you

Divorce can be draining on your mental health, and often when friends or other family members find out about your circumstances they will offer up their help and support. Talk about your feelings with someone you’re close to in order to help get your emotions off your chest, this can be a great relief, especially if you speak to someone outside your immediate family. It can be hard to concentrate at school/work if you’re feeling under pressure and stressed, and if these issues prevent you from concentrating, speak to your doctor or a counsellor for further assistance.

Don’t be the messenger

If your parents no longer wish to communicate with each other directly due to a complicated divorce, they may be inclined to try and use children as the ‘go between’ to speak to one another. This is a difficult position to be in, but respectfully say you do not wish to do so. This can add further strain to you and your wellbeing, knowing you must report information back and forward, and is not your responsibility.

Do your best to stay positive during these difficult times, and know that with time the idea of your parents being separated will become more tolerable, and you will eventually settle into a new routine. Stay focused on yourself, the positive people you have around you and your goals for the future. Remember it is always okay to seek professional help, and Mind Allies  are always here to guide you through difficult periods in your life.