First of all, we’re sending so many hugs your way, girl. No matter how you feel about your ’rents at certain times or how much they argue, it’s never easy to see them part ways. So we spoke to the founder of Standing Strong, Kim Smith, about how to navigate this situation and come out the other side a happy human.
#1 It’s not your fault
Let’s just get this out of the way straight up: it is not your fault that your parents are getting a divorce. It has nothing to do with you so don’t feel any guilt about what is happening. It’s normal to feel like you contributed to the split, but you didn’t! “We tend to blame ourselves when our parents separate because we start thinking about the things we have done to cause stress or create challenging times for them,” Kim says. “It’s their responsibility to take time for each other and nurture that relationship, not ours.”
#2 It's OK to be super sad
You might be beating yourself up about the whole situation as you think you should have seen the signs, but you often can’t predict when a relationship is going to end. So it’s totally normal to be shocked and a bit blindsided by the news and it’s OK to feel completely devastated. Coming to terms with the fact that your family unit is changing is so hard. “If you are finding it really difficult to deal with the emotions you’re feeling, I recommend seeing a counsellor,” says Kim. “It’s important for you to stand up for your needs through this process. Sometimes we think we need to be strong for our parents, but we don’t. They are the parent and they have a responsibility to take care of us. If you don’t feel comfortable asking Mum or Dad if you can see a counsellor, talk to your school counsellor or call Kids Helpline.”
#3 But it’s also OK to feel relieved…
In other instances, their divorce might be a relief. If your parents argued frequently before they decided to split, it would feel like a relief this won’t be happening anymore. “Living in a stressful or unhappy home is a very difficult experience to go through, especially as you have very little control over it,” Kim says. “It’s natural to feel relieved as well as saddened by the experience. You don’t need to feel guilty.”
#4 Moving forward
While the aftermath of a divorce can be a tense time, it won’t be this way forever. And if your parents weren’t happy any more, this change will be the best thing for them and your family in the long run – even if it feels awful rn. Remember to keep talking to your parents about how you’re feeling as the divorce progresses, as your wellbeing is their top priority. And no matter what happens in the breakdown of your parents’ marriage, they aren’t bad people and they haven’t failed. If you think about it, they have you as a result of their relationship and you’re amaze so we’d count that as a success!
SURVIVING THE DREADED DIVORCE
When you’re going through this crappy period, there are things you can do to make yourself feel a little better.
You need to be super gentle with yourself at times like these. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling crappy or you’ve let a few things slip between the cracks. “Self-care is crucial during any time of change, especially with one so close to your heart,” says Kim. “It’s so important that you take time to look after yourself. Do things that make you feel special, take long relaxing baths, enjoy DIY beauty treatments, go for long walks and spoil yourself.”
Journal, journal, journal
When things get stressful, we love taking to our journal to write down our feelings. When you put thoughts on paper, they can seem easier to deal with. It doesn’t even have to make sense. “When we hold on to intense emotions, they can wear us down and even make us sick,” Kim says. “It’s important for you to express how you feel and what you’re experiencing. Writing is a great way to do this – you don’t have to worry what anyone else will think and you can be really honest.”
Talk to someone for support
Talking through your feelings is super important during a tough time. Reach out to someone close to you – it could be a friend, teacher, family friend or counsellor – and lean on them for support. “Try not to go through this alone or feel like you have to be strong. You’re allowed to be devastated: your world is completely changing and you need all the support you can get,” says Kim.