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Coping With Divorce

If your parents decide to divorce, you may have a lot of emotions and questions. That’s OK because it’s a big change for the whole family, including you. There’s plenty you can do to start to feel better and get through it all.

How Can I Feel Better if My Parents Get a Divorce?

Speak up. It can be confusing if your parents don’t want to be together anymore, so ask them any questions you have. If it’s hard getting the words out, write them a letter.

If your parents fight or are just mean to each other, tell them that it upsets you or makes you sad. They can try to act better when they’re around you or you can leave the room. Your feelings are important.

Know that you don’t have to “take sides.” Some parents try to get kids to choose one parent over the other. Let your parents know if you want to hang out with and talk with both of them — without the other one acting jealous, hurt, or mad.

Talk with other people. Tell a trusted grown-up how you’re feeling. Talk with a teacher, therapist, school counselor, or religious leader (like a minister or rabbi). Also talk with your friends. If their parents got divorced, they’ll know what you’re going through.

Focus on school and after-school activities. Keep up with your schoolwork, clubs, and sports. When things are changing at home, it can help to keep this kind of stuff the same.

Eat healthy and get enough sleep. If you feel sad, you may want to eat junk food and stay up late doing things like watching videos. But when you eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest, your body will feel better. You’ll also be able to handle tough moments and emotions more easily.

Find ways to ease stress. Lots of things can help you feel better if you’re upset. Try some of these ideas:

  • Get moving: You can do jumping jacks, march in place, run, dance, or practice a sport.
  • Go outside: To get some fresh air and exercise, go for a walk or bike ride.
  • Try yoga: The poses help you stretch, breathe, move, and relax.
  • Take a few slow belly breaths: Breathe in through your nose. As you breathe in, let your belly puff out like a small balloon filling up with air. Breathe out through your nose. As you breathe out, let your belly flatten.
  • Do something you enjoy: Listen to music, watch a funny show, create some art, write in a journal, or play with a pet. You can also hang out with someone who might brighten your mood or help you laugh. 

Can I Get My Parents Back Together?

Getting your parents back together isn’t up to you. Plenty of kids wish for it and even try things they think might work. Following the rules at home all the time and doing really well at school may make your parents happy, but it doesn't mean they'll forget about divorcing. The opposite is also true. Getting in trouble so your parents will have to talk about following rules isn’t going to make them get together again.

Divorce can be a big adjustment. Letting your parents know how you feel and coping in healthy ways can help you get through it.

What if I Can’t Stop Being Sad or Mad?

If you can't seem to feel better about your parents' divorce, or you have worries every day, tell a grown-up. They can connect you to a therapist (a mental health doctor or counselor). Therapists are trained to understand the problems kids go through. They’ll ask questions, listen, teach you how to cope, and help you feel better.

Reviewed by: Maia Noeder, PhD
Date Reviewed: Jun 10, 2023

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