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Thursday, 22 March 2001

Liz on Divorce: When Your Dad Walks Out

Written by  Liz Hill

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It's true. More than half of all marriages end in divorce. Probably half the kids in your class have only a mom at home. But knowing that didn't make it any easier when your dad walked out.

It's not fair. Your Mom and Dad couldn't get their act together and you have to suffer.

Maybe you even think that you could have done something to stop it, or, when you're really feeling down, you might even think that it had something to do with you.
It didn't. First, I'll set you straight about that one and then give you some advice on how to get through this tough time.

First of all, take a deep breath and listen to what I'm about to say. Dad is not leaving Mom because of anything you did. Dad's leaving Mom because Dad and Mom have problems with each other, big problems, otherwise he wouldn't be leaving.

Maybe he is angry with her, or she's disappointed in something that he did, or they're just very, very unhappy with each other. Whatever it is, it's got nothing to do with you. What do you think, a happy, loving couple get up and separate one day because you're making trouble in school?

Second of all, it's hard, but you've got to keep on going. Whatever it is you do in school or at home or with friends, just keep doin' it. Don't be ashamed of yourself and hide from people. Talk to adults you trust. Don't be shy to ask a friend whose parents are divorced what it was like going through the split up and what it's like now.

More important than talking to friends or other adults is talking to your parents. You might have a lot of questions about why they couldn't work it out or about when you and your Dad will be seeing each other.

It might be hard for you seeing how upset Mom and Dad are. Divorce is real tough on everyone. But remember it's also for the best. At least for them and maybe for you. With Mom and Dad being so mad at each other all the time it couldn't have been much fun at home, which gets me to my next point.

Sure, there's nothing great about parents splitting up, but maybe something good will come from it. Like I said. It might be more peaceful without the two of them fighting. And who knows - you might even get more special time alone with your dad (or your mom, if she's the one who walks out) than you got before.

Like, before, maybe he just came home, patted you on the head, asked, "How's school?" but didn't really sound like he cared. Now maybe he'll take you out alone to baseball games or whatever. This is what adults call "quality time". It's a fancy expression for: "I'll put all my attention on my child. I won't be busy doing other things while I'm with him. I'll only do those things that make him happy."

Now, how can you make the most of your dad or mom moving out?

  1. Try to be cool about it. Help them both out. This cannot be easy for them.
  2. Remember that you've got your own life. They will be trying to put aside special times to spend with you. Try to go along with them, but don't give up things that are really special to you just because it happens to be your three hours on a Sunday afternoon for "Dad Time".
  3. In spite of what I wrote above, whenever possible, do try to spend time with them.
  4. Be kind and considerate. But don't let them use your time together to just complain about the other one. It's natural for them to want to do that, but explain to them, nicely, that it isn't fair to make you the one in the middle who has to listen to both sides.
  5. Go after your hobbies and dreams and friends and get on with your life.
  6. If the whole divorce is really hard on you, be sure to talk it over with someone. Sometimes a grandparent can be real helpful in a time like this.

Good luck. Remember: You're okay, they're okay...things will just be a little different from now on.



Last modified on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 04:40
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Liz Hill

Liz Hill

Liz (Elizabeth) Hill is a pseudonym that is a composite of a number of WholeFamily writers who remember what it was like to be young.

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