Tweens and Teens Hit Hard by Divorce
A person who read my book “Hey, Mom and Dad, Remember Me?” said this about it: “I read your entire book within 24 hours, not wanting to put it down. I have ordered two more copies for my grandniece and grandnephew, although they are well beyond the “tween and teen” stage. I just wish the book would have been available when they were at that stage. But I think it may be helpful to them even now. It’s great for parents, too because it tells them how to help their kids — and maybe themselves in the process.”
When a divorce occurs children are a major concern. How will they react? What will happen to them? Often, the feeling is young children will be the most affected — because older ones can cope. However, statistics show tweens and teens are most affected. Most tweens and teens have grown up in a family atmosphere — hopefully without too much anger. Suddenly that secure atmosphere is taken away with these tweens and teens thrown into situations difficult to understand.
Hey, Mom and Dad, Remember Me? is written specifically for tweens and teens whose parents are going through or have had a divorce. The opening statement emphasizes the problem: “Being a young adolescent is hard . . . . Divorce can affect every aspect of life: emotional well-being, attitude toward loved ones, school, and other areas.”
My publisher asked me to write this book because she had adult friends who led dysfunctional lives traced back to their parents’ divorce when they were teens. The book was a logical project because I counseled tweens and teens whose parents divorced. ALSO, I was a product of divorce when I was 14. The title says a great deal. Too often divorcing parents think only of themselves emotionally and financially. They don’t realize their tweens and teens are undergoing the same emotions plus a radical upheaval of their lives. Also, parents don’t realize their child or children think the divorce is about them. Those children who aren’t doing well in school or are misbehaving have heard their parents arguing about those facts. Consequently, those children project the reason for the divorce onto themselves.
The book shares experiences of tweens, teens and adults I counseled (using similar situations without actual names to protect privacy). Each story is unique yet similar in many aspects. In my acknowledgements I say “. . . my deceased parents showed me the devastating effect of divorce on a teen.”
When I was a teen, divorce was not as common. I remember only one girl in my immediate social circle whose parents divorced. As I progressed through life I rarely thought about the divorce — assuming I had coped. At that time, counseling was not an option; everyone figured I’d make it through. Years later, as I studied effects of early trauma on children, I realized much of my emotional behavior was because of that divorce years earlier.
Chapter 1 envelops the major objective of the book — parents must realize their tween or teen is old enough to understand what is going on. Titled “Let’s Talk,” it answers the question: Will your parents remember you as they struggle with each other and the events surrounding a divorce? Suggestions are given on how to sit down with parents right away to discover why they are divorcing.
Naturally, some areas are difficult to discuss — like the fact one parent is having an affair. One area tweens and teens probably would understand is substance abuse. Young people have more awareness than in the past because almost any subject is covered in the media. As difficult as it is to talk, it is better to be open with children.
This book provides a compassionate look at the best ways to handle parental divorce. Each chapter has a checklist of important items in that chapter — and how to apply them to an individual life. The book provides examples and commentary from tweens, teens and adults who have undergone the divorce experience plus additional help from therapists and attorneys who have worked with parents and children.
An open letter to parents starts the book, a letter which can be read to the parents to start the first discussion. Chapters include: What’s going to happen to me? What is custody? Why the financial battle? and two big questions: Is there chance for reconciliation? Can you be friends?
Divorce is a heavy burden on any person and should not be carried alone by any tween or teen. This book helps them to make the best of the most straining parent divorce. The book’s final sentence summarizes the theme. Do not allow this trauma to define your life.