I’m the product of a divorced family. It’s something I rarely talk about and usually don’t think about it anymore. However, when writing my latest young adult novel, Anything Goes on a Friday Night, divorce is a huge part of the plot. It brought back a lot of the struggles I faced and have since forgotten about. I felt like it’d be beneficial for me to discuss how it can affect teens and how teens can overcome the heart wrenching shock that comes with the new changes.
I remember the day I found my parents were separating. I felt like someone had died. I remember thinking, what does this mean for me? Do they even care how this is affecting me? Will I have to move? And oh crap, what will I do if they re-marry? I felt like my world was turned upside down.
My parents who were once so in love were not in love anymore. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how after almost 20 years of marriage, they just didn’t want to be together anymore.
The moment I learned that I would have to move crushed me. I had friends. I had a life in a town that was no longer my hometown. It was stolen from me by two people who couldn’t work it out. That’s how my mind perceived it then, but now I know better. Their intention wasn’t to hurt me, but at the time, it was scary. I had to go to a new school and make new friends while hurting so deeply inside. I felt torn between two households and everything felt so out of whack.
I was embarrassed. All of my friend’s parents were together, but I was “that kid” that lived in a house with one parent. And then I gained a step-mom. That threw me into a world of more chaos. I didn’t understand how my dad could love someone other than my mom.
I remember going through the motions and that was it. I smiled when I thought it was appropriate but not because I wanted to. I was so unhappy and confused.
There’s always a but…
Things got better. So. Much. Better. When I thought my life could never be good again, it did. What made the difference? Me. I chose to be happy. I chose to be me without the baggage of my parents’ divorce. They had to do what made them happy and so did I.
Teens already live a chaotic and dramatic life. When something such as divorce becomes a reality for them, it adds to the chaos. My best advice for teens going through divorce is to give special attention to their own priorities. Remember that the divorce isn’t your fault and your parents made that decision to better themselves not because you did anything wrong. Focus on your health, education, hobbies, friends, and mental well-being.
YOU choose to be happy. No one else can choose that for you. Divorce hurts, but making the best of the situation and focusing on YOU can be the light that will lead you through the darkness.