If you’re parents are going through a divorce, then at some point they may come to you to have the “Divorce Talk”. It’s the conversation in which they tell you that they are going to separate and the family is going to split up. It’s not an easy conversation by any means. Even if you’re an only child, it’s a difficult conversation to be in. This article will provide some ways to make it through that conversation – whether you’re with one parent, both, or with the entire family.
Perhaps for some children this might come as a complete surprise. You might not have seen it coming at all. Perhaps your parents were really good at keeping their arguments to themselves, which they did no doubt, for your sake. Perhaps your parents were really good at keeping their true feelings to themselves.
And for others of you, you knew it was coming. You knew it was going to happen; you just didn’t know when. Perhaps you heard your parents arguing. You noticed that they never spend time together and never hugged. You noticed that there is often a thick wall of non-communication between them, except when it came to you or the bills or taxes. So, you’ve been expecting it.
The divorce talk is different for everyone, but it’s never easy. One family of five children decided to have a talk one night after dinner. All seven of them sat in a circle around the living room and the room was quiet at first. Then, each parent spoke their true feelings. Each parent looked around at their children and finally spoke what they have been keeping to themselves. Each parent seemed to drop a heavy stone in the room one by one, weighing down the house deeper into the earth. After the parents spoke, the children didn’t take it well. There was fear, anger, and confusion, but mostly fear. The children weren’t sure what was going to happen after the family split. Would they live with one parent and never see the other parent? If some of the siblings separated from others, would they see their brothers and sisters again? And where would they live? Where would they go to school? When it seemed that at least there was a containing force for the entire family, even that vanished with the weight of this conversation.
If you’ve been through the “Divorce Talk” yourself and you’re feeling the whirlwind of emotions, perhaps the following will be useful:
Write down your feelings. This is a way to get clear about your reactions to the divorce. Sometimes, without giving your feelings attention, they just swarm around inside and create a collective bad mood. You’re not sure why you’re feeling bad, other than knowing that your parents are divorcing. But when you write down your feelings, you have the opportunity to recognize each of your feelings. For instance, perhaps you’re feeling angry because your parents didn’t mention anything at all and they’ve suddenly dropped this on you. Or perhaps you’re feeling confused about who you will live with and when. Getting down your feelings helps you to experience them and not have them rule over your life. Then, you can decided whether you need to get help for those feelings. For instance, perhaps you need to ask your parents questions or see a therapist or talk to a good friend.
Find a friend whose parents have divorced. It can be very useful to talk to someone who has already been through this experience, especially a friend or someone your age. This can help with not feeling alone, if you’re feeling this way and can provide support in the areas you might not know you need them. For instance, a friend might say, when my parents divorced, I needed to spend more time with friends so that I didn’t feel like everyone was leaving me. Or a friend might say, when my parents divorced, I became a lot closer with my brother. Suddenly, it was he and I making our way through the turmoil of the breaking family.
Connect with other family members. Spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can also be helpful. Doing so, can help you recognize that your family will still be there for you even if your parents are going through a hard time in their relationship.
These may be useful ways to make it through the sting of divorce, during and after the “Divorce Talk”.