SURVIVING DIVORCE

By Céleste Perrino-Walker

Your parents dropped the “D-bomb.” Now what?

 

Maybe you saw it coming, and it’s not a surprise, or maybe you were totally blindsided and are still reeling from the shock and pain. The biggest questions you probably have right now are: Why? Why me? Why my family?

 

The truth is that relationships don’t come with a guarantee. Marriages, while more legal and binding than other relationships, can still end for many, many reasons, just like any relationship. But it’s important for you to know that your parents’ marriage didn’t end because of you.

 

Despite what you are experiencing throughout the divorce—the mixed feelings, the anger, the hurt, the disappointment, and, yes, maybe even the relief, if your home situation was bad— remember that your parents’ divorce belongs to them and them alone. They didn’t ask you for your opinion or your permission to divorce. There are some things you cannot control in life, and it is helpful to remember that.

 

Managing Mom

Teen girls have a tendency to clash with their mothers for a few years; it’s a growing and testing phase, and most mothers and daughters survive it and end up being good friends. (When you are an adult, you’ll likely realize that your mother was your first best friend.) This is normal, but if you happen to be on the outs with your mom right now, you may be wondering what’s going to happen when your dad moves out and you’re left all alone with her. Most courts grant primary custody to the mother, so chances are that you will live with your mom most of the time (even if your parents share custody).

 

Even if you and your mom get along, you will both be experiencing some powerful emotions as you deal with the divorce. Depending on the circumstances, you may even blame your mom for the divorce and be tempted to take your anger out on her. Try your best not to do this. Your family will survive divorce no matter which route you take through it, but if you strive to treat each other with kindness, you will do more than simply make it through to the other side bruised and battered; you’ll arrive stronger and more mature.

 

Remember, divorce is not death, although at times the grief you’ll experience for the end of your parents’ relationship might make it seem as though it is. Your parents are still alive; you will still see them. They will just not live in the same house. You will have to get used to a new schedule and, in time, perhaps, even new family members, if either or both of your parents remarry.

 

Daddy’s Little Girl

Whether you are Daddy’s little princess or his rough-and-ready tomboy, you were and always will be the apple of his eye. Nothing is going to change that fact just because he might move to a different town or zip code. Because Dad’s time with you may be brief, he may worry that you’ll forget about him. He might also be anxious that you’ll come to love a stepdad more than him.

 

For a while Dad may overcompensate for the divorce and his lack of time with you by lavishing you with gifts or money, taking you on trips or to special places. If this happens, it will likely be a “honeymoon” phase. If it stops after a while, don’t worry that he loves you any less. In fact, it will be a sign that he’s growing more secure with your new relationship.

 

While parents are mature adults, remember that as your parents navigate through divorce, they will be plagued with many emotions and can especially feel guilty, angry, and insecure. They may behave in ways you don’t understand. Try to remember that your parents, despite being adults, are also hurting human beings. They are trying to do what’s best for you. They aren’t perfect; they’ll make mistakes. Love them anyway. They’re trying.

 

Father to the Fatherless

When you are feeling as though everything is shifting beneath your feet, remember that you have a heavenly Father who will never leave you nor forsake you. He will stay at your side as you learn to navigate your parent’s divorce. He says: “I will be a Father to you. You will be My sons and daughters, says the All-powerful God” (2 Corinthians 6:18, NLV).∗ God will be with you at your mom’s, at your dad’s, through every tear and every heartache. If you ask Him to, He will show you how to navigate through it all (Psalm 32:8). With His help you can survive divorce.

 

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∗ Scriptures quoted from NLV are from The NEW LIFE Version, copyright © 1969, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986. Christian Literature International, Canby, OR 97013. Used by permission.

 

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Tags: Self Image,  Girl Issues,  Relationships,  Christian Life

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