There's a lot of advice on this website, and it can get a bit confusing trying to read all of it and figure out if it applies to your own life. So here are six basic facts about divorced families that apply to everyone.
#1: There is life after divorce
If you think that nothing will ever be the same after your parents' divorce, you're right. However, just because things have changed doesn't mean that you can't go on to live a great life. It may be in a different house and with a different routine, but there is still life after divorce. School keeps going, life keeps going, and most importantly, you keep going. Don't believe me? Ask around at your school and I guarantee you that you'll find other teens whose parents are divorced. They've made it through and you will, too. Children of divorce can and do go on to live successful lives, even becoming president of the United States. It may not be easy, but you can make it through. This is not the end of the road.
#2: This is not your fault.
Unfortunately, the first thought that flashes through most childrens' heads when they hear that their parents are getting a divorce is typically "it's my fault." I'm guilty of that, too, but it's not true for either of us. The real people responsible for this are your parents. They're adults, and they understand the decision that they're making. And, for whatever reason, they have decided that a divorce is the best option for your family. As much as it's nice to think that we could have stopped this, the truth is that their decision was out of our hands. You are not responsible for the failure of their marriage.
#3: Your parents may act differently for a while.
Sadly, that's to be expected and may last for quite a while after the divorce. Like you, your parents are adjusting to this change in their own ways. They may start dating other people and spend less time at home or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, suddenly start cooking dinner every night and trying to spend more time with you. And, yes, they will probably be sad and angry for a while. This has nothing to do with you; it's just their way of grieving. Remember, they didn't get married expecting to get divorced and it was probably very hard on them to see their marriage fail. Things should reach a new normal after your parents have finished adjusting.
#4: You can't fix everything.
This is really hard for most people to admit, myself included, but like I said before, some things are just out of our hands. So, while you might give your mom or dad an extra hug when they're feeling down or spend a little more time with your brother or sister, remember that you can't always fix things for them. The first person you should take care of is yourself. Try to remember that if you find yourself acting more like your parents' counselor than their child, or your brother's parent rather than their older sibling. You don't need to act like someone else to be a great child, brother, or sister - just be yourself. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to help out, but you need to take care of yourself, too.
#5: Everyone's experience is different
Divorce affects every person differently, depending on their personality and family life. While one person may want things to go back to the way they used to be, another may be relieved that their parents have divorced. Some teens may have even been completely taken by surprise by their parents' divorce. Personally, I had thought my family was perfect before it all came crashing down, but now I'm grateful that my parents are divorced. No matter what you feel, it's okay to feel that way! Just remember that no two experiences are alike. Stepfamilies, moving, visitation - it all changes for each person. So even though you've heard what the experience was like for others, it doesn't mean it will be the same for you. Divorce is different for everyone.
#6: Divorce doesn't happen like they show in movies
Ever seen the movie The Parent Trap? Two girls whose parents are divorced trick their parents into getting back together and they all become one big happy family again. Unfortunately, it rarely happens like this in real life. For most parents, divorce is final. No amount of playing matchmaker on your part will get them back together. This is their decision, and, as hard as it is to admit, you have no control over it. The good side? Stepfamilies don't work like they show in the movies, either. Remember the evil stepmother in Cinderella? In reality, it's doubtful that a stepmother will make you sleep by the fire in rags. And, believe it or not, there are actually many good stepmothers (and stepfathers) in real life.