Keep the peace. Dealing with divorce is easiest when parents get along. Teens find it especially hard when their parents fight and argue or act with bitterness toward each other. You can't do much to influence how your parents behave during a divorce, but you can ask them to do their best to call a truce to any bickering or unkind things they might be saying about each other.
No matter what problems a couple may face, as parents they need to handle visiting arrangements peacefully to minimize the stress their kids may feel. Letting your parents know that even though you know everyone is super-stressed, you don’t want to get caught in the middle.
Be fair. Most teens say it's important that parents don't try to get them to "take sides." You need to feel free to hang out with and talk to each of your parents without the other parent acting jealous, hurt, or mad. It's unfair for anyone to feel that talking to one parent is being disloyal to the other or that the burden of one parent's happiness is on your shoulders.
When parents find it hard to let go of bitterness or anger, or if they are depressed about the changes brought on by divorce, they can find help from a counselor or therapist. This can help parents get past the pain divorce may have created, to find personal happiness, and to lift any burdens from their kids. Kids and teens can also benefit from seeing a family therapist or someone who specializes in helping them get through the stress of a family breakup. It might feel weird at first to talk to someone you don't know about personal feelings, but it can be really helpful to hear about how other teens in your situation have coped.
Keep in touch. Going back and forth between two homes can be tough, especially if parents live far apart. It can be a good idea to keep in touch with a parent you see less often because of distance. Even a quick email saying "I'm thinking of you" helps ease the feelings of missing each other. Making an effort to stay in touch when you're apart can keep both of you up to date on everyday activities and ideas.
Work it out. You may want both parents to come to special events, like games, meets, plays, or recitals. But sometimes a parent may find it awkward to attend if the other is present. It helps if parents can figure out a way to make this work, especially because you may need to feel the support and presence of both parents even more during divorce. You might be able to come up with an idea for a compromise or solution to this problem and suggest it to both parents.
Talk about the future. Many teens whose parents divorce worry that their own plans for the future could be affected. Some are concerned that the costs of divorce (like legal fees and expenses of two households) might mean there will be less money for college or other things.
Pick a good time to tell your parents about your concerns — when there's enough time to sit down with one or both parents to discuss how the divorce will affect you. Don't worry about putting added stress on your parents, just try to pick a good time to talk when everyone is feeling calm. It's better to bring your concerns into the open than to keep them to yourself and let worries or resentment build. There are solutions for most problems and advisors and counselors who can help teens and their parents find those solutions.
Figure out your strengths. How do you deal with stress? Do you get angry and take it out on siblings, friends, or yourself? Or are you someone who is a more of a pleaser who puts others first? Do you tend to avoid conflict altogether and just hope that problems will magically disappear?
A life-changing event like a divorce can put people through some tough times, but it can also help them learn about their strengths, and put in place some new coping skills. For example, how can you cope if one parent bad-mouths another? Sometimes staying quiet until the anger has subsided and then discussing it calmly with your mom or dad can help. You may want to tell them you have a right to love both your parents, no matter what they are doing to each other.
If you need help figuring out your strengths or how to cope — like from a favorite aunt or from your school counselor — ask for it! And if you find it hard to confront your parents, try writing them a letter. Figure out what works for you.
Live your life. Sometimes during a divorce, parents may be so caught up in their own changes it can feel like your own life is on hold. In addition to staying focused on your own plans and dreams, make sure you participate in as many of your normal activities as possible. When things are changing at home, it can really help to keep some things, such as school activities and friends, the same.
If things get too hard at home, see if you can stay with a friend or relative until things calm down. Take care of yourself by eating right and getting regular exercise — two great stress busters! Figure out what's important to you — spending time with friends, working hard at school, writing or drawing, or being great at basketball. Finding your inner strength and focusing on your own goals can really help your stress levels.
Let others support you. Talk about your feelings and reactions to the divorce with someone you trust. If you're feeling down or upset, let your friends and family members support you. These feelings usually pass. If they don't, and if you're feeling depressed or stressed out, or if it's hard to concentrate on your normal activities, let a counselor or therapist help you. Your parents, school counselor, or a doctor or other health professional can help you find one.