Dealing With It

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Here are some tips for dealing with other situations you may be experiencing, including:

Breaking the news

Some teens find it hard to tell their friends and others about their parents splitting up. Sometimes they worry about what others will think. Sometimes they think their friends will think they are different now, when all that has really changed is their family. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Take your time. You don't have to tell anyone until you feel ready.
  • Tell one friend at a time.
  • Choose a quiet, relaxed time, when you know you'll have a few minutes to talk, without worrying about others listening, or having to rush off to class or another activity.

Remember: Good friends will be glad you've told them, and will know that you're still you, even though your family is changing.

Having two homes

Living part of the time with one parent and part of the time with the other can be a little confusing at first, but it can also be new and exciting. The first thing you will have to do is to get organized:

  • Use a calendar so you know where you are going to be every day of the month. If you find that the schedule conflicts with some of your activities, talk to your parents to see how you can make it work for everyone.
  • Make a list of ail the things you need to have with you at each home. Check it before you leave, to make sure you have everything.
  • Try to get two of some things—like toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and other small things that you always need—so you don't have to carry them back and forth.

Next, make the new home feel comfortable:

  • Ask the parent who has moved into a new home what you can do to make a space for yourself.
  • Move some of your things into your new space, to help make it feel like your own.

If your parents have very different rules and lifestyles, you will probably have to do your best to get used to the differences. You might just come to enjoy them! But again, if you feel that your needs are not being met, say so. Maybe some things can be changed to help make you feel more comfortable.

Staying connected

If one parent has moved far away, or you don't get to see one parent very often, you might miss him or her. Even if you live part of the time with each parent, it's normal to miss the one you're not with. There are lots of things you can do to feel connected. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Decide on regular times to talk on the phone.
  • Send e-mails often, even every day. (You could even write real letters!)
  • Ask each parent for a special thing that reminds you of him or her, like a photo, and keep it with you.

Holidays and other celebrations

Special times like birthdays and holidays can be hard at first. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to deal with special times. Maybe you can celebrate twice, once with each parent. Or maybe you can celebrate one holiday with one parent, and the next with the other parent. Or alternate yearly—for example, have your birthday with one parent one year and with your other parent the next year. If you feel sad about losing some of your family's traditions for celebrations, try creating new ones. Each year, try to do some new things that you can do again next year—and the year after that. Before long, you'll find yourself with a wealth of new traditions.

Parents dating

As your parents begin to get on with their lives, they might start dating. It's normal for some parents who are newly single to enjoy their freedom and see lots of different people. You might feel jealous, and want your parent all to yourself. Or you might feel betrayed, as though it's too soon after the separation or divorce for him or her to be seeing someone new. Try to see it from your parent's point of view. And try to figure out why your parent's dating bothers you. In addition, try not to judge your parent's new friends. And definitely don't try to drive people away. Just as you weren't responsible for your parents' splitting up, so you aren't responsible for their new relationships.

Q & A

What will my friends say when they find out about my parents splitting up?

Lots of teens worry about breaking the news to their friends. Some feel embarrassed about what is happening.

Separation and divorce are very common these days. That means that many people have been through it themselves, and most probably know someone who has.

Good friends will be glad you've told them. They'll know that you're still you, even though your family is changing.

Do I have to take sides, or choose one parent over the other?

No, you don't. You have the right to love and be loved by both parents.

If you are feeling pressured to take sides, and you feel you are caught in the middle of your parents' problems, tell them.