Some of the latest statistics on divorce are pretty scary. Almost sixty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Second and third marriages have divorce rates of close to eighty percent. As any child of divorce can tell you, the divorce isn’t just between the parents in a family – the whole family is affected.
Children of Divorce
Over one million children
will watch their parents divorce this year, and literally half of all babies born in 2008 will end up children of a broken home by the time they are eighteen. In some cases you can probably understand why your parents got divorced, especially if there was cheating or abuse involved, but studies have shown that children almost always wish their parents would find a way to stay together – even if they fight and bicker constantly. That’s not all the studies have shown.
Apparently children who have divorced parents have other problems to worry about. Children of divorce:
•Are more likely to be abused or neglected
•Have more health and behavior problems
•Are involved in more criminal acts
•Are more likely to use drugs and alcohol
• Have higher rates of suicide
•Perform poorly at school
•Are more likely to fail or repeat a grade or drop out
•Will earn less as adults
• Will lose their virginity at a younger age
•Will probably have fewer children of their own
•Will most likely end up divorced
Breaking the Cycle
There is no doubt that these things aren’t very upbeat and positive. But if the numbers are right, by the time you’re in college almost half of your friends will have divorced parents, too. Does this mean that everyone (or half of everyone) will be hurt by divorce?
Just because a study says you can have some serious problems from your parents’ divorce doesn’t mean it has to actually come true. Every family is different and every divorce is different. Kids who see both parents on a regular basis and are lucky enough to have parents who are at least still nice to each other have a serious advantage over those who are suddenly missing a parent or have to hear their parents gripe about each other constantly.
If your parents are divorced, and you think you’re getting the bad end of the deal, you need to be proactive about getting help to break the cycle. Don’t wait for your parents to notice you’re doing badly in school or getting into more fights. They are busy with courts and getting set up in new separate lives. Sure they should be overwhelming you with love and attention during this difficult time, but that doesn’t always happen. Instead, you need to take matters into your own hands.
Deal with It
The worst effects of divorce are the ones you allow to fester under the skin. If you are angry and bitter that your parents have done this, you need to get those feelings out. The longer they stay in, the more damage they can do. It’s perfectly natural to feel sad, angry, furious, frustrated, bitter, relieved, happy, and confused all at the same time. Find a trusted friend, teacher, counselor or therapist to help you talk about everything and work though your feelings.
Talking about hurtful subjects can be uncomfortable, but you won’t be able to heal from a divorce until you work your way through all your thoughts and feelings on the matter. When you’ve processed how you feel (and your feelings will change over time) talk to your parents about them and tell your parents exactly what you need.
Even if your parents got divorced years ago, you might still have unresolved feelings about everything. Your parents might not be comfortable talking about it, and you may cry or shout, but try to stay calm and tell them how you feel and what they can do to make your life as simple as possible at this point. After all, it’s not your fault they split.