Every year, many teenagers go through their parents’ divorce. Your parents moving into different homes means that the whole family has to adjust to new routines. The divorce can cause a lot of changes in your day-to-day life and affect your relationships. After the divorce, you might move into a new home too. Adjusting to travelling between two homes takes time. This page contains information and resources to help you through the divorce.
You’re welcome to join the chat for children and teenagers to talk to someone about any problems you’re having at home, your parents’ divorce, or a break-up of your own. The chat is open from Monday to Friday from 3pm to 5pm. You don’t need to register to use the chat.
Emotions aren’t right or wrong. Instead, emotions are signals that tell us about how we feel. Our emotions give us important information about how we feel about the challenges and conflicts that life throws at us. In the beginning, your parents’ divorce might feel like the end of the world and you might be unwilling to accept the situation and adjust to the changes. You might hope for your parents to change their mind and get back together. How you feel about the divorce also depends on how your parents broke the news and took your opinions about decisions involving you into account after the divorce.
Your parents’ divorce can feel like a sad event. You might feel disappointed that your parents decided to break up. At the same time, you might be worried about the future and concerned about how everything will work out. You could feel like you’re being pushed aside or abandoned, especially if your parents are preoccupied with the divorce, organising practical matters, or taking care of your siblings. You might also be concerned about how your parents are coping.
If the divorce was a surprise to you, the situation can be confusing. Missing your parents is an unavoidable part of the divorce. You can spend time with one of your parents and miss the other at the same time. Missing your parents is a sign that you have a close and loving relationship and they’re important to you.
Remember that the divorce isn’t your fault or a result of anything you’ve done. You aren’t to blame and your parents have their own reasons for the divorce. Making the decision to divorce is usually a lengthy process and your parents might have gotten help for the struggles they were having as a couple. You’re allowed to ask questions about the divorce and what’s going to happen next if you want to. You don’t have to come to your own conclusions. Talking with your parents and telling them how you feel helps. Your parents’ job is still to be there for you and support you.
The divorce could also feel like a relief, especially if there’s been a lot of arguing and tension at home. Things at home can calm down when your parents don’t live together anymore. Everyone in the family might feel relieved by the new living arrangements and your relationship with your parents could improve once they have more time and energy to spend quality time with you.
You might feel alone sometimes. You might not have friends with divorced parents, or you might find it hard to talk about the divorce with anyone. If none of your friends’ parents are divorced, you might feel ashamed about your own situation. The divorce can make you feel sad, anxious, or hopeless. If you can’t talk about what’s bothering you and share your feelings with your parents, try talking with your school nurse or school counsellor. You can find more information on where to get help under the “Where can I get help” tab below.
Getting used to new routines and adjusting to the changes in the family takes time. Some people settle in faster, and others take longer. Adjusting means you get used to doing things a little bit differently at both of your homes. Your parents might have different house rules about bedtime, dinner time, and free time. You’ll have an easier time recovering from the divorce and settling in when you talk about your feelings with your parents and share your own opinions.
You’ll know you’ve recovered from the divorce when you notice travelling between your two homes is a normal routine to you and you’ve found ways of keeping in contact with your parents when you’re apart. You’re able to keep in contact with your friends easily and hobbies and free time are a part of your week. It’s easier for you to recover from the divorce when you have a clear calendar schedule of which parent’s house you’ll be at and when.
The divorce could make you concerned about your relationships with your friends, siblings, or relatives. You might be worried about how a younger sibling is coping or wondering how to get along with your siblings in the future. Divorce can cause conflicts in the family and make you sad or angry, but you don’t have to be alone. Spending time doing things you enjoy with family or friends can give you something else to think about and put you in a better mood.
The divorce can also affect the relationships between your parents and their friends and relatives. Friends and relatives don’t always know the right thing to say or do. While adults might have strained relationships, children shouldn’t be expected to take sides. You shouldn’t have to mediate conversations or reconcile any differences your parents and family members might have with each other.
Children are entitled to maintain their relationships with parents, siblings and friends. You can keep in touch with friends and family via phone calls, text messages, letters or visits in person. Parents are responsible for assisting children if they need help to stay in contact with friends, grandparents and relatives. Parents should always support and encourage communication and contact with friends and family.
Another big change is when one of your parents starts a new relationship. When a parent’s new partner moves in, you might also be getting new family members or step-siblings. Adjusting to the new family members can be difficult and take time. Ideally, parents would make sure children’s feelings about their new relationships and living arrangements are heard at every step and take time to make sure everyone is comfortable with the situation.
Sometimes a child’s relationship with one parent suffers or a parent becomes estranged after the divorce. Children are never to blame for these situations. Staying in touch and arranging to spend time together is always the parent’s responsibility. If you want to stop visiting one of your parents, it’s a good idea to talk to your parents about why you feel this way. Consider whether there’s a way you could comfortably keep in contact with him or her. It’s also important to discuss any event that might be affecting your relationship, or if something happened on a visit that has been making you feel bad. Changes in your personal life can also affect how much time you can spend at a parent’s place or how regularly you can visit.
The divorce doesn’t mean you should be concerned about your relationships. You might have learned some valuable lessons about what you would or wouldn’t do in your own relationships. Dating teaches us about ourselves, who we are compatible with and what feels good. Every relationship faces its own set of challenges. Getting a divorce isn’t a sign of failure, but a sign that a relationship wasn’t working or wasn’t what both people wanted. When staying together becomes too difficult, breaking up is sometimes the wisest choice.
Your parents share responsibility for deciding how to arrange your care after the divorce. This means negotiating custody, visitation, how you can keep in contact with your parents, and how they communicate about your affairs. Your parents also have to decide how to distribute your expenses and maintenance between themselves. It’s also a good idea for your parents to discuss other things involving you, such as your education and school, how you can make it to hobbies and see your friends, and how you’ll spend vacations.
Your parents should discuss the new arrangements with you and try to take your opinion into account where possible. However, your parents have the final say and it’s up to them to carry responsibility for their decisions.
Parents usually make an official contract about children’s care and maintenance after the divorce. This is usually done at your local child welfare supervisor’s office, but if your parents can’t come to an agreement, it can be settled by court decision. In this case, the court usually wants more information before they make their decision. This means you might have a meeting with a social worker, whose job is to assess the situation as well as what both your parents’ homes are like.
What would you like to talk about? Is everything fine or is something about the divorce concerning you?
If your parents are divorcing, spending time with friends and talking about the divorce with your parents or another adult you trust can be helpful. Hobbies can keep your mind off things at home. You can let your thoughts and feelings out through writing, painting, music, or exercise. Taking care of your wellbeing is important, meaning making sure you get enough sleep, eat regularly, and have time to relax. Your life should still include things to be happy about and things that put you in a good mood.
It’s great if you can share your feelings, thoughts, and opinions with your parents. Your parents should be respectful of your feelings and put aside time for you to spend together and talk.
You can also talk about the divorce with other adults you trust. Your school counsellor or school nurse are also good people to talk to. EKTL’s member associations offer teenagers one-on-one counselling in some municipalities.
The chat for children and teenagers can be found here. You can join the chat to talk to a professional about your feelings, concerns and thoughts about your parents’ divorce. Our counsellors can also advise you on where to get help for yourself and provide you information on children’s rights in a divorce.
The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare offers a hotline for children and teenagers as well as a chat that can be found on their webpage https://www.mll.fi/nuorille/ as well as the Sekaisin -chat https://sekasin247.fi/ . Shelters for teenagers are open around the clock and offer emergency accommodation. Shelters also offer counselling for teenagers and their parents. https://www.punainenristi.fi/hae-tukea-ja-apua/nuorten-turvatalosta/tietoa-turvataloista
If you don’t feel safe at home or something is making you afraid, think about what to do in an emergency in advance. Think about what to do, who to tell, and who could help you. You can talk about domestic violence with a professional in the chat at the Online Shelter.
Peer support groups are also a good way to get help and meet other teenagers in the same situation as you. Lots of teenagers have found friends through a peer support group. You can search for a peer support group for teenagers with divorced parents using the search function on our website, or ask your parents to find a group for you.
Below you can find a list of things to help you adjust to the changes that come with the divorce. You can go through the list on your own and think about how it applies to your own situation. You can also use the list to help you start a conversation with your parents.
If you can’t talk to your parents or talking to them feel difficult, you can talk to your school counsellor, school nurse, school psychologist or a youth worker. You can also join the chat for children and teenagers and talk with a professional trained in divorce counselling.
I know that my parents’ divorce isn’t my fault.
My parents talked about the divorce with me and we had a discussion about what’s going to change and what’s going to stay the same.
My parents listened to my feelings and wishes about living arrangements and visitation rights with my other parent. I can affect the visitation schedule if necessary.
My parents understand my feelings. I can show and tell them how I feel.
My parents have time for me and spend time with me when I’m at their house. I feel like I’m at home in both houses.
I can talk about the divorce with the people that are important to me.
My parents talk and message each other about things involving me, and I don’t have to relay messages.
Traveling between homes is easy and my parents help me if necessary.
My parents take care of me so that I can concentrate on school, friends, and other important things.
I can call or text both of my parents when I want to and about what I want.
My parents talk to each other politely and don’t put each other down in front of me. My parents don’t badmouth each other to me.
My parents discuss things with me, arguments are dealt with, and no-one puts me down or calls me names at home or in front of my friends.
Even though the divorce changed a lot of things, I think I’ve adjusted to the situation well.
Sivuston kuva: Pixabay.