Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Feeling Better

There are lots of things you can do to make yourself feel better.

The most important one is to keep doing the things you like to do. Try to keep up with your regular activities. See your friends and make sure you don't isolate yourself. Read books. Listen to music. Play with your dog or cat. Take long walks. Try to keep yourself busy doing fun and interesting things as you deal with your changing family situation.

Make sure that you take time for yourself every day! When life gets stressful, it's easy to forget to do things for yourself, even though times of stress are when you most need time for yourself.

Here are some other suggestions:

Talk about it

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to talk. Talking about your feelings — not just once, but often — almost always makes you feel better. It releases tension, and can help you put things into perspective, so they don't feel so overwhelming.

So:

  • Tell your parents how you feel. If they are too upset to be helpful, try again another time. Talk to someone else in the meantime.
  • If you have brothers or sisters, talk to them. Since they're going through the same thing you are, they'll probably understand how you are feeling.
  • Talk to a close friend, especially someone who has gone through parental separation or divorce.
  • Talk to a relative, like an aunt or uncle, or another adult you know and trust, like the parent of a close friend.
  • Sometimes talking to someone who doesn't know your family very well — like a teacher or school counsellor — can be very useful, because they can be objective.

Write about it

Try writing about your feelings in a journal or diary. You can write as often as you want, and say whatever you want to say. Over time, you will be able to see the progress you are making as you adjust to the changes and face the challenges.

It's OK to cry

Crying can make you feel better, because it lets the feelings out, instead of keeping them bottled up inside. But don't worry: if you don't feel like crying, that's OK too.

Exercise

Get active! Exercise is an excellent way to let off steam. And being fit physically may help you feel good emotionally.

  • Walk, run, or bike. Go skating or swimming.
  • Play basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, or another game you like.

Do something creative

  • Write a story, or poetry.
  • Write a song.
  • Draw, sculpt, or paint.
  • Dance!

Think positively

Things will get better! At first, it’s hard when your parents separate, but you will get through it. Others survive, and you will too. You might even find that there are ways in which your life is better than it was before.

Q & A

Q:
I'm feeling really upset and confused about my parents splitting up. Is this normal?
A:

It's natural — and entirely normal — to experience some intense emotions. You will feel better over time. There are lots of ways to help yourself feel better, and people who can help you if you need it.

Q:
Can I do anything to get my parents back together?
A:

Most parents split up only after trying very hard to save their relationship. Some teens hope and believe that if they try to be on their very best behaviour, their parents will get back together.

However, this plan isn't likely to work, since their parents' decision to split up had nothing to do with them. Their decision to separate or divorce is usually final.

Q:
If my parents divorce, will the same thing happen to me?
A:

Many teens whose parents split up feel anxious about their own relationships in the future. But just because your parents split up doesn't mean the same thing will happen to you. What happens in your relationships will be up to you, not your parents!