Girls: Stay Close To Your Parents During Divorce

You might get mad, hate them, and swear that you’re never going to speak to them again. You might feel broken in a way that you haven’t before.

The truth is for girls and female teens, relationships are important. This is not to say that relationships aren’t important for boys too; they are. But research shows that divorce can have a stronger negative impact on teenage girls, who tend to define themselves through relationships, connection to others, and bonds with friends and family. For this reason, although you hate them, see if you can find a way to communicate your feelings and fears. Find a way to keep your relationship with your parents close.

When the structure of a girl’s family, a structure they’ve known throughout their lives is disrupted, an internal structure is also at risk for breaking down. Girls tend to be socialized by their mothers and tend to be more obedient and responsible than boys. Because of this, you might keep your emotions to yourself. You might conceal how you really feeling in order to tend to your mother’s (or father’s) adjustment to the change and make the appearance that everything is all right.

However, although you might conceal your feelings, you might also have a delayed reaction to your emotions, which might later come on quietly. For instance, some girls might feel shame, which can lead to low self-esteem, and self blame. This might also lead to choosing partners that do not treat you the way you should be treated and having unhealthy relationships.

The strong relationships a daughter has with each of her parents can provide a buffer to the intensity of a divorce. Supportive parents can help weather the stormy home life of a divorce. They can help maintain or at least re-build the stability that girls need. But if your family also has domestic violence or other forms of family violence, such as child abuse or emotional abuse, it will be more difficult for girls to get the steadiness they need. Children, including boys, need structure. When the family unit is broken, that structure deteriorates.

Girls, to be able to make it through divorce of your parents, especially when other factors exist in the family, like addiction or domestic violence, it’s important to get outside help. Find a mental health professional to work with, a support group, or other means of professional help.

And throughout it all, your individual relationships with your parents are important. The relationship you have with her mother is significant. For some girls, the mother-daughter relationship suffers after divorce. However, if you have a strong bond from the beginning, that bond can serve as a protective factor during the split. This is also true for your relationship with your father. Since most girls will side with their mother during a divorce, a young girl might have significant issues of trust if she is not able to heal her relationship with her father before, during, or after a divorce.

Although it’s challenging, keep your relationships with each of your parents alive. Continue to share your feelings, your fears, your frustrations. Doing so will only bring you closer.

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