What to do when your parents are getting a divorce

  • There’s a lot of complicated emotions that come when two people split up, especially when they have children, and that’s normal
  • Here’s some tips on expressing your feelings, discussing custody and making your new home feel comfortable
Dannie Aildasani |

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Whatever feelings you have about the divorce are totally valid, and you're allowed to have them.

No one can really prepare you for your parents getting divorced. Even if you expected it, and even if you think everyone will be happier, it can still be tough to figure out how to handle the new challenges that arise when two people with children split up.

Young Post spoke to Katrina Rozga, Director of Therapy and Counselling at the Jadis Blurton Development Centre, for advice on how to deal with the complicated feelings that come with a divorce.

First off, you need to know that you’re allowed to feel whatever you’re feeling about the split.

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“There is no one right way to react to the news that your parents are divorcing. Everyone will have different feelings and a different reaction; all of them are valid,” Rozga says.

It’s perfectly understandable if you have some questions or concerns. Everything affects your life, too! Maybe you’re wondering how your living situation will work moving forward, or who will be responsible for what aspects of your life. Talking to your parents about tricky subjects can be difficult, and even more so when it comes to something serious like divorce, so Rozga shared some tips on how to handle the conversation.

“Let your parents know what you would like to talk about in advance, as well as when you would like to do it. This can give them time to prepare and will help them to not be caught off guard,” she says, adding that this can prevent in-the-moment heated emotions.

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“Make sure you discuss who will talk and when, and figure out what you should do if the conversation does get heated,” she adds. “Ask them to ensure they will listen to you and how you are feeling.”

Make sure not to blame your parents, but be clear about how you feel. “If you feel strongly about past events, this may not be the time to bring them up. Instead, state things matter-of-factly to allow them to understand what you would like and how you feel,” says Rozga. “Give them a plan of what you would like going forward; offer a solution.”

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One of your parents will move out, and you will have to split your time between two homes. One tip Rozga offers to make the situation more comfortable is to ensure you have what you need in both places; for example, a toothbrush, face wash, and any other things you use to get ready in the morning or evening. This also means you won’t have to worry about forgetting things whenever you go back and forth.

“Keep in mind that having two homes means you have two parents who love you and want you around,” Rozga says. “Remember that it will take time to adjust and iron out the details.”

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If you have a younger brother or sister, they will probably be looking to you for guidance as to how to react.

“If the older sibling remains calm, it can be helpful for younger kids and reassure them it’s ok,” Rozga says. “It will also help them feel more secure.”

One of the most important things to remember is that you don’t have to take sides, or feel guilty about having a relationship with either of your parents.

“Remember you’re allowed to love both,” Rozga says.

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