Are your parents getting divorced or you suspect they might be heading down that path? If so, you aren’t alone. In America, there is one divorce occurring approximately every 36 seconds. That's nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year. According to a Washington state family and divorce law firm, McKinley Irvin, the divorce rate in America is a staggering majority compared to successful marriages: with first marriages at 41% percent likelihood of ending in divorce, second marriages around 60% likelihood, and third marriages at an astonishing 73% likelihood. There is no singular cause for a marriage to end in divorce and divorce can have more than one impetus behind the split; but if the couple have children, the children tend to internalize the blame of their parent’s split. They believe that they are to blame for the divorce. That kind of mentality is completely incorrect, since the child hasn’t done anything wrong and the parents are the ones making the adult decision to split.
In my (Sophia’s) experience, as hard as it is, you need to keep peace and be fair towards your parents. This means that you don’t take sides (unless it was very abusive and you are doing it to save your life). Your parents are hurting too. They are feeling pain. Try to understand that the divorce isn’t your fault. Your parents are ending the marriage for a reason that is likely much greater than you. Your parents still love you, no matter what. My parents divorced because they fought and it turned abusive fast. I knew it wasn’t my fault due to all of the counselors telling me so, and my parents checking in on me. My mother walked out for a while, she told me it wasn’t my fault; she had to get away from my dad. Divorce is scary for all parties involved. Use this time to get better relationships with your parents by talking about your feelings and telling them you love them no matter what happens. It is crucial to remember that even though your parents are getting divorced, they love you all the same.
In my (Cassandra’s) experience, divorce can impact your entire life, depending specifically on what age your parents’ divorce with younger children having a bigger impact on their life. Studies have been published showing that young children of divorce (whose parents divorced in their formative years) have more of a difficult time forming attachments to their parents and the divorce dynamic has an impact on their future romantic life; all of which rings true in my own life. I was 6 when my parents decided it would be best if they split up for good. I could remember times where the television would be cranked to the highest setting, a ploy to drown out the screaming match I could still hear through the paper thin walls. I would bury my head in my protection of my hands, hoping that everything would be okay again. When my parents announced their impending divorce; I felt as if my entire world was being ripped out from underneath me and there was only one person to blame: myself. To my confused 6-year old mind, I was the reason that my parents were unhappy and splitting. My parents re-assured me that I was not to blame for their split, but that was the last time they would ever put up a united from. From then on, I was bombarded with responsibility I had no business having at 6, deceitful knowledge that would forever change how I saw one of my parents, parental alienation by that same parent, the sensation and drama of blended families, and overall emotional trauma from my parents’ divorce. From that point, I no longer was a person in one of my parent’s eyes but rather a tool for their agenda. The divorce set off a domino effect in my life: I have been in and out of therapy since the age of 6, I have trouble establishing connections to my family, I have problems with my romantic life, and I suffer from depression. My advice to those going through the same thing is to look out for yourself first and foremost. Divorce will impact you in some way, some people will feel the brunt of the occurrence more than others. Don’t allow your stress to internalize and be used as a weapon against you by whomever finds you at a disadvantage. Some avenues to explore is therapy or confiding in a trusted individual about your feelings. This leaves you focused on navigating through troublesome times without having to worry about the impacts of burying your emotions. If you are emotionally stable, you are less likely to act out negatively and are less at risk of engaging in dangerous behaviors, like taking drugs or self-harm. This also makes you less at risk for mental disorders like depression. Another piece of advice is not to take sides and remain impartial. Take it from me, taking sides with one parent over the other can have dire consequences on your mental and emotional well-being. You want to remain impartial with both parents and treat them equally, until you are able to make rational decisions as an adult. Then, if you want to take sides, you can with a clean conscience and no worries about the other parent’s reaction. But most of all, I would say that you should try to forgive your parents. After all, they’re human just like you and I. They will have made mistakes, but that doesn’t make them unlike anyone else.
Divorce is a tricky topic to broach, but remember that you are never alone. There is around 2,400 individuals, either adult or children, who are going through exactly what you are going through at any given moment in time, so know that you aren't alone. You will make it through this. Best of luck!
By Sophia and Cassandra
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.