Life Goes on - A Heartfelt Message for Teens in the Middle of a Separation or Divorce

Benedict By Benedict, 27th Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1jr_.18t/
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Divorce

Divorce and its equally sinister cousin separation can rip apart many aspects of your life as a teen that made you happy and you thought would never change. You can feel like the world is caving in on you. But there is light at the end of the tunnel if you choose to find it. I promise you. I lived through it and so can you!

Divorced or Separated Parents? Welcome to the Club!

Sadly, the number of teens who become adults in families with divorced or separated parents is close to 50/50, even the majority depending on which statistics you focus on.

Though more common than ever before, these kinds of situations are still incredibly difficult for many teens. I hit my teens in 2001, just a few months after my parents separated for the first time. Although they 'only' divorced finally around 2009, I can assure that the separation was just as sinister as a divorce, which is why I've included this article for teens with separated parents as well.

Stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression were just some of the feelings and conditions I felt during this painful time.

While there is no hard formula for how to pull through these times, I've assembled the best strategies I used, sometimes accidentally, other times on purpose, that helped me come through this time.

Accept What You Can't Control

This may shock some of you, but you can't control whether your parents get back together, or even get along. A marriage or other form of romantic relationship is between two people alone.

Additionally, trying to control the actions of others in such a way as this is the most sure-fire way I know for disappointment and despair.

This is NOT your fault. If an outside individual helping two married people stay together actually worked, nowhere near the 50%+ rate of couples divorce would occur.

What you CAN control is yourself. And with the tools I'm about to show you, you can make the best of an unfortunate situation.

Exercise, Exercise!

I entered my teens just as mp3 players became a must-have for every teen. Whether it was my CD Walkman or later my iPod, music became a way for me not so much to escape as to enjoy the moment in which I was living. How does this relate to exercise, you ask? Well, while listening to music, I loved to run. I was like Forrest Gump tearing down a footpath while my headphones boomed out Bon Jovi, Matchbox 20, Moby or whatever I liked each time. Having constantly bickering parents seemed to fade into the distance as the music and running helped me focus on my dreams and what I wanted, not the turbulence back home.

Lean and fit, I still ran myself until my heart thumped, my muscles pulsed and my head and heart felt truly alive. Run by run, I discovered the amazing effect of exercise on not only my physical health but my emotional well-being.

Every 100 push-ups in my room, or an hour at the gym could achieve the same effect. Clinically-proven by scientists, regular exercise releases endorphins, a primary ingredient for feeling happy. So whatever you do, do it regularly.

I challenge every teen in a difficult home situation to do this: exercise rigorously for 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week. See how you feel after 21 days.

Your parents will probably still be divorced or separated but the most important thing is that YOU start to feel better.

Don't Be a Lone Wolf, Run with the Pack!

Now, the title I just used is no excuse for following the crowd aimlessly or caving into peer pressure. What I mean is that you need to reach out to others, not necessarily for help, but for human warmth, connection and friendships.

Just like exercise, social interaction is great for the brain and emotional wellbeing. In this day and age, I understand so much contact is done via technological means such as Facebook, Skype or regular email. Funny, friendly messages to friends this way can boost you, but also try for regular doses of trips to the movies, coffee and general face-to-face chitchats with your friends. Better yet, make new friends as well!

Even something as "boring" as a friendly smile and exchange of words with the cashier at the supermarket is something which can help. We humans are social animals - we don't do ourselves good by isolating ourselves!

Also think about helping others. It's a fantastic way to feel good about yourself as you reach out of yourself to help someone who needs it. We all need warmth and affection, so try it!

For me, I am happiest when I'm with others or communicating with them in a meaningful way.

With friends you can laugh, and with laughter and fun life becomes happier. It's all a matter of perspective!

Focus on What You Want

Think of an angry time in your life for 20 seconds but feel it intensely, almost as if it was happening all over again.

Now, leave it a few minutes, clear your head of the past memory, and now think of the happiest time in your life and do the same as before - think of it as if it was occurring right before you once more.

How did you feel each time? Bad the first and much better the second? Yes? Well, you've seen the importance of what we focus on and how it affects us.

Sure, we won't always feel as happy as Homer Simpson with a plate full of pork chops in front of him. BUT we can control how we feel (much) more often than we realise or admit just by focusing on something more positive and fulfilling to us.

So next time you find yourself spending an hour focusing on the seeming hell between your parents, choose something else: your hot date next week, the ball game on Saturday you've been waiting two months for, or that great holiday with your friends after you graduate. Doesn't the world feel a little or even greatly more rosy then?

Dream Big!

This is related to the last point but I think it needs special emphasis.

Not only should you focus on good things in this difficult time for you - you should also plan ahead.

For me, I wanted to travel. I imagined it, dreamed about it, talked about it, ran it over endlessly in my mind.

Whenever I did this, the pain of my home situation would fizzle away.

I set goals. I continued to visualise. And then, when I was an adult and could legally drink in Europe (haha!), it all started to happened. I was in Europe three times in a year and carving out the life of fun and happiness I wanted.

Back in the darkest days of my parents' separation, I could and often did focus on negative things. But I spent enough time focusing on my ultimate goals of travel that I not only felt better when I did, I also made those dreams happen at a young age.

Whether it's your dream of athletic success, academic brilliance, a special relationship or some other achievement worthy to YOU (yes, YOU, not someone else), follow it.

You not only make yourself feel better and achieve in the future, you move your mind away from your parents' strife - something, as I said before, you just can't control.

Advice for the Toughest Times

Sometimes the days are so hard you really do need some outside help, whether a trusted family member or friend, or even an expert in mental health.

There is no shame in reaching out when you feel you can't bear it anymore. How do I know? I tried suicide multiple times in my saddest times as a teen. I felt it was the answer to a pain and agony that burned me inside.

Slowly but surely, I reached for something better and found it. I'm studying Law, Languages, Politics and International Relations now at university now. Travel continues to be a big part of my life, as do my friends, who I spend memorable and happy times with.

When you feel desperate, help from others can steer you away from it. Not all the time will that help be what you wanted or needed. Sometimes the person may not understand but keep searching!

Michael Jordan was cut from his sophomore basketball team. Abraham Lincoln lost almost every election he ever contested. Werner von Braun and Robert F. Kennedy both failed classes in school. The list goes on.

A setback or a sense of overwhelm is not failure. Reach out and you can make your future bright. That's my promise to you!

Tags

Broken Family, Divorce, Divorce And Children, Mental Health, Stress

Meet the author

author avatar Benedict
I'm an unconventional young man with a predilection for saying and doing what I feel.

I seek adventure and abhor most forms of political correctness.

I crave travel, debate politics and love life.

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
28th Nov 2011 (#)

This is downright sound advice young man. I see so many divorced parents hurt the ones they say they love the most, their children. I wish most parents would learn that, it is them divorcing and not the kids. Theparents should do everything they can to make the transformation easy for the children. I do know though even though some (very few) do it right, it is still a hard time for the children, especially during their teen years. I have raised two teens of my own and many along the way to know just how much more they have to deal with, let alone their parents splitting up. Nice read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Hanson
17th Nov 2013 (#)

Great

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