How can I prevent my parents' divorce?

61

9

I am a young teenager, younger than 16. (I do not want to give my age online)

My dad told me he wants a divorce, but I don't want my parents divorced. My dad says he can't stand my mom anymore. My dad is older than 45 and my mom is older than 40.

If it happens, I would choose to stay with my mom. My dad can cook and drive, but my mom can't. There's a school bus in high school though.

What can I do to prevent this divorce?

ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 436

1Was this a passing comment or a serious discussion? – Kami – 2015-01-29T11:44:05.770

26Oh dear. I'm afraid you can't. :( Heart goes out to you though. – A E – 2015-01-29T17:41:08.837

4This might be hard to understand, but to take a lesson from Jurassic Park "Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." You might not want your parents to get a divorce, but have you considered whether or not it's better (for everyone involved) that they do? – corsiKa – 2015-01-30T18:53:33.470

3@ʇolɐǝzǝɥʇqoq An Latter-day Saint stake president of mine once said that something couples visiting him who wanted a divorce didn't do is pray together, and that changing that helped them. You might try to convince them to pray together every night, and pray with them together as a family, too. When you say Amen to another's prayer, it's saying you agree with it. If your mom and dad can agree on something every night, that might help them out a lot, especially if they're praying for each other, and increasing in love that way. Also, maybe encourage them to date each other more. – Shule – 2015-04-07T10:34:15.450

Kudos for trying. – Simply Beautiful Art – 2016-09-18T23:31:29.403

3Are you willing to comment on what, if anything, you did, and what the outcome was on this nearly two year old issue? – Adam Davis – 2016-12-14T21:47:47.303

Answers

102

I'm sorry to hear about your parents.

Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do. And, whether it helps or not, there was nothing you could have done. This is not your fault.

Also, don't be angry at your parents. The situation they will be putting you in is not fair; no doubt about it. But, for your parents, it takes a lot to recognize that the relationship they started in isn't the one they currently find themselves in. And, honestly, living the lie of a relationship may be more destructive than breaking it up.

Divorce is a messy business, and it impact everyone, especially the kids. You have friends here to help you get through it. The people here have been the parents. Many of them were the kids, like you. Sometimes, they saw their own friends go through it.

My closing thoughts, though they may not be the most comforting, are that, while you may not be able to stop your parents' divorce, you play a big role in the relationship with your parents after the fact. Resentment and hate do not help. Recognize that your parents are still your parents, and they still love you, even if they don't love each other. Believe it or not, they are people too: people who have their own worries, fears, and insecurities. Try to extend to them all the understanding you can.

Nick2253

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 1 133

6Thank you very much for your answer. My mom said that my dad was a very positive guy. I'm wondering could it be stress that's causing this? – ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq – 2015-01-28T00:30:58.560

31@Bobthezealot People change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Stress could be a part of it. Perhaps your parents would consider relationship counseling. That has worked for some people I know in the past, and it hasn't worked for others - about 50/50. – Nick2253 – 2015-01-28T00:34:25.777

2+1, because it's true that having a marriage stay together can be worse than breaking up the marriage. The act of getting married does not magically give all parties the skills needed to keep the marriage healthy and happy, and it doesn't preserve people with the personalities and bodies that they had to start with. Things change, and sometimes people are not prepared nor willing to deal with that. – CreationEdge – 2015-01-28T21:42:47.390

1@Bobthezealot - It's possible that any number of things could be causing this. Life can get pretty complicated when you're an adult and all sorts of factors can go into wanting to end a relationship. A lot of people are giving you advice that they'd give your father, but you don't have the experiences the other adults here have. My advice is to remind your father than you're however old you are, that you've never been married, and that he needs to be talking with your mother or other adults. – Julie in Austin – 2015-01-29T06:09:22.113

6

Some good research findings on whether it's better to divorce than staying together here. TL:DR; not so much.

– Sklivvz – 2015-01-29T13:07:43.073

2@Nick2253 Suggesting relationship counseling is a good idea, and I'd upvote an answer like that to the heavens...but ultimately it is true that this is not something he can fix, or should fix. It is his parents' decision, and it is a hard one to face. – Zibbobz – 2015-01-29T15:38:26.690

2Like @Nick2253 said: your parents are people too. This means that their behaviour may be less-than-perfect sometimes. You need to protect yourself by setting boundaries and being willing to enforce them. For example, parent A says negative things about parent B which you do not agree with; you could respond with "A, I know you're angry & hurt, but B is still my parent and I will not tolerate you bad-mouthing him/her." Don't let them put you in the middle of their arguments or use you as a tool. – Kryten – 2015-01-29T18:05:31.587

1All your 735 reputation is from this question. :) – ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq – 2015-02-05T04:05:21.847

21

I'm sorry your father burdened you with this.

What can I do to prevent this divorce?

Honestly? You could try to guilt them into staying together. You could try to act as a marriage counselor. You could do a number of things that might help you reach your goal of preventing a divorce.

However, it's really not up to you. At best you can be one of the many factors that plays into this decision. Keep in mind, though, that by bringing it to the attention of your mother, or trying to get them to confront the possibility may actually spur them into action and actually divorce.

The statement, "My dad told me he wants a divorce" doesn't suggest that he's taken steps to start the divorce process. He may have, and maybe he's just trying to prepare you for the outcome, but at this point you might want to consider that people say things they desire but may not be willing to act on in reality. So if you do decide you want to involve yourself further, keep in mind that your actions might not have the positive effect you hope for.

If they are to stay together, though, they must both want to stay together. This means an active commitment on each part to stay together.

There are lots of resources on how to rekindle love and romance. They are usually written for the people trying to rekindle their romance, but some of them have a few ideas you can use, such as helping them remember how they felt early in their romance. You might be able to ask questions about how they met, what attracted them initially and what kept them coming back together.

Just be aware that while you are certainly an important part of their life, family, and relationship, they have to make a decision that is ultimately between the two of them. You might want to instead spend some time strengthening your own relationship with each of them individually and together, so that regardless of what happens in the future, you've secured yourself to your parents. "I'm not going to pick sides. I love both of you, and I don't want to hear you talking bad about each other." Might be something you'll find yourself saying as they work things out.

Adam Davis

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 6 161

12+1 " You might want to instead spend some time strengthening your own relationship with each of them individually and together, so that regardless of what happens in the future, you've secured yourself to your parents. "I'm not going to pick sides. I love both of you, and I don't want to hear you talking bad about each other." " The most important part in my opinion. – Pharap – 2015-01-29T02:32:04.727

Guilting them might work. Trying to act as a marriage counselor is unlikely to work for a 16 year old, especially one who is personally involved. You might be able to guilt them into going to a real marriage counselor, however. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-10T23:52:49.867

15

I'd recommend showing your Dad Can unhappy marriages become happy again? How? (which is the second chapter of a book). Here's a short excerpt:

Some may be surprised to learn that many unhappy marriages recover. As one respected marriage therapist and researcher, Dr. William J. Doherty at the University of Minnesota, noted, marriages are not like fruit. When fruit gets bruised or rotten, it doesn’t improve with time; you just have to toss it out. Marriages, however, often do improve over time. In a recent study,12 married Utahns were asked if they ever thought their marriage was in trouble. Nearly half (47%) said “yes.” (Utahns were even more likely than Americans in general to report this.) Nearly one in three (29%) married Utahns said that at some time they thought their marriage was in trouble and had thought about divorce. About one in ten (11%) said they had talked to their spouse about a divorce in the last three years. Nationally, about one in seven (13%) married individuals say that they have seriously thought about divorcing their spouse recently.13 But more than 94% of married individuals—both men and women—who said that their marriage at some point was in trouble said they were glad they were still together.1

Another thing that you may want to talk to your dad about is his marriage vows. See if you can find a respectful way to remind him that he promised "…for better or for worse…" and his current situation is the "…for worse…" that the vow was talking about.

Above all, remember that this situation is not your fault, and you cannot control the actions of your parents.

  1. Hawkins, Alan J., and Tamara A. Fackrell. Should I Keep Trying to Work It Out?: A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (and Before). Salt Lake City, Utah: Produced on Behalf of the Utah Commission on Marriage, 2009. 9-10. Print.

user1534044535

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 302

3The statistics are impressive, but I would say simply giving him the book isn't enough for the same reason there's an extract of this book in the answer. There's no guarantee he'll read the important bits (or any of the book at all) unless given an incentive, such as that interesting 94% figure. – Pharap – 2015-01-29T02:37:52.340

7Agreed. The real answer is: "You cannot control other people's actions.", so it's not possible for Bob to stop his parents from getting a divorce if they are dead set on it. However, this article might help if his parents are trying (even a little) to make things work out, so I figured I'd post it. – user1534044535 – 2015-01-29T16:07:58.260

2I'd go careful saying what the 'real answer' is. Big social matters like divorce are highly subjective, if there was a 'real answer' it wouldn't be such a big issue. – Pharap – 2015-01-29T16:17:41.073

@stiemannkj1 That is a really nice answer and analogy ..... – Glowie – 2015-01-29T16:49:08.637

1@Pharap That 94% statistic sounds impressive because it could be straight out of "How to lie with statistics" (great book, very much recommended to everyone) as a prime example of a semi-attached number. Only one obvious flaw: You are only asking people who are still together - you have already excluded all those people who would tell you that the marriage didn't work out for them! Another thing is to always look for the source of statistics: A short google search will show you that the Utah Commission on Marriage has a clear agenda and is no neutral party. – Voo – 2015-01-31T20:27:31.413

@Voo Well it's a good thing this isn't my answer then. – Pharap – 2015-01-31T20:42:25.917

@Pharap Didn't want to imply it was, just debunking the 94% statistic. – Voo – 2015-01-31T20:48:48.220

1@Voo, I understand what you are saying about the statistic, but I feel that the quote makes it perfectly clear that the statistic is from people who stayed together. I think even from that group, the statistic is still impressive. It'd be easy to assume that even those who stay together are unhappy, and these stats say otherwise. – user1534044535 – 2015-01-31T21:37:47.397

1@Voo "Another thing is to always look for the source of statistics: A short google search will show you that the Utah Commission on Marriage has a clear agenda and is no neutral party." The fact that they are not neutral does not necessarily call into question the results of their stats. – user1534044535 – 2015-01-31T21:40:19.537

1@stiemannkj1 "I feel that the quote makes it perfectly clear that the statistic is from people who stayed together" - sure it does! Why lie if you can mislead everybody with a carefully picked statistic that has no correlation to the question asked? The statistic is shown in context of whether staying together makes you happier or not, but in no way or form answers that question. It only says of all people who have at the time not been divorced most of them say they are happy - if you asked all divorcees whether it was the right decision you'd get a similar percentage. – Voo – 2015-01-31T22:02:17.740

@Voo The question was how to get his parents to stay together. The statistic answers the question perfectly, even if it doesn't answer your question. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-10T23:57:28.187

@Warren I guess persuading someone by using misleading statistics is a viable solution, but the ethics of it are rather questionable. – Voo – 2016-10-11T19:48:47.630

@Voo The ethics of divorcing when you have a kid are also questionable, so I call it self defense. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-12T06:51:17.797

1@Warren Ah the good old "two wrongs make a right" approach to ethics. But that's not the real problem. The real problem is that this doesn't solve any problems, it only prolongs the misery for everyone involved. – Voo – 2016-10-12T07:06:27.847

@Voo If the parents fix their marriage, which is almost always possible if they really want to, then the misery will be removed for everyone involved. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-12T07:42:27.653

11

First off, thank you for caring enough to make a positive difference in your parents' life. You would not believe how helpful you are being, just by caring.

Now for the hard news. It can take people decades to realize this, but you can't make anybody do anything. People will always do what they want to do. You can affect their reasoning. You can help them want to stay together. You can use force and threats to help them want to stay together (this is what people often resort to when "making" someone agree with them). In the end, no matter what, they will do what they will do.

Divorce is not something parents consider lightly. It is extremely painful for everyone: not only you or your mom, but it is likely excruciatingly painful for your dad as well, even though he is the one asking for it. It is very likely that, if your dad is talking about it, the idea has so much momentum you are unlikely to stop it.

Consider that divorce is two things. One part is legal: there are a set of legal rights that husband and wife have. The divorce paperwork will end that. Fortunately, those legal details are probably not very important to you at your age. We can basically ignore those at this time.

The other part is the social part: the relationship between your parents. I'd venture to guess that this is what you really care about. The legal issues of dividing houses and finances are plenty, but they are usually not what sends aware young adults to stack exchange to ask for advice. You want your parents to stay together. The good news is there is something you can do here.

Try to help make it easier for them to repair damage. Make it easier for them to talk to each other. Try to make it easier for them to develop a healthy, respectful unmarried relationship. There are many degrees of relationships, not simply married and not-married. They are going to have to figure out their new relationship, and you can make that easier on them. You should seek to support them.

This does not have to come in the form of direct actions. Yes, talking to them helps (especially once your dad talks to your mom... don't break the ice until they're ready for you to talk unless you're really sure you know what you're doing). However, there are dozens of little things you can do. Even little things like being good about doing your chores and being easy to work with will have huge effects. You can't make your parents stay friends, but you can choose to make it as easy as possible for them to choose that way.

Now for the real secret to this approach: it's not just specific to recovering from a divorce. It's also great for supporting your parents if they don't get a divorce. It's also great for trying to help your parents resolve issues so they don't need a divorce. In all situations, trying to respect your parents and make their lives easy always helps them.

If you try something to force them to stay together, like threatening them, all of your energy is being devoted to stopping the divorce. If the divorce happens anyways, all of your work is destroyed. However, if you seek to be a positive influence, working with your parents, the story looks better. You help them choose to not divorce (by reducing stresses on them, giving them more room to resolve their issues). If they divorce, you have set yourself up to help them figure out what their new relationship is. If they work through their issues and don't divorce, you've set them up to have a better life as a family. No matter what they choose, your good work will support them!

Others are free to disagree with me here, but I find there's a paradoxical result here: the more you show that you'll support your parents no matter what they decide, the less likely they are to divorce. It seems natural to think that the best way to keep them together is to put your foot down against the divorce, but the opposite approach actually works better. If they are to dodge the divorce, they are going to have to resolve something between them. It's something hard to do, or they'd have fixed it long ago. Knowing that you will support them no matter what they decide will actually help free them up to try to resolve their issues.

Think about it like homework. How well can you concentrate on your book report when you know you have Math, History, and English homework, plus a quiz in Chemistry? Most people's mind gets frazzled when subjected to deadlines like that. Now imagine if your History and English worries were lifted, because the teachers realized they'd put too much on your plate. "If you can't finish the homework because you're too busy on book reports, that's okay. You can finish it over the weekend." Just think about how much easier it is to concentrate on the book report now. That's what you can do to help your parents. Work with them to make sure they don't have to worry about you, and can focus on healing themselves.

Cort Ammon

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 1 361

1As you said, you can't make anybody do anything. She can hope for a better outcome, but it's important that she doesn't get the sense that she has any control over it. She doesn't. – anongoodnurse – 2015-01-29T05:57:55.100

Why is the Dad talking to the kid about this? It strikes me from the question that the Dad is seeking the kid's approval, so he won't feel guilty about filing for divorce. In this case, being supportive may be the worst thing to do. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-17T22:43:36.780

9

Ok here are some important considerations/context we don't know:

  • why your dad wants a divorce (or just a separation, or your mother to change something).
  • whether your mom also wants a divorce, or is unhappy
  • whether your dad has discussed any of this with your mother (if not, obviously he should - do not become his confidant or messenger)
  • whether it's an issue of compatibility, honesty, sexuality, fidelity, communication, finances...
  • in your eyes, how good/bad is each of their behavior to each other and you? Is there something to salvage or not? (Remember, it's up to them to do the heavy lifting, not you)
  • are they capable of communicating to each other to resolve this (one way or the other)? Would they benefit IYO from talking to a psychologist/ marital counselor or divorce mediator (divorce mediator is a different thing to the former) or trusted friend/ family member/ pastor/ whatever? Do they listen to each other? Respectfully? Do they speak to each other? in a constructive way? Do they apologize (when warranted)?
  • unless your mother is mentally ill, abusive, violent or dishonest (or even if), your dad should be able to articulate to her a list of why he's unhappy and what needs to change. And her to him. They need to set up that conversation, not you. And pronto. Avoiding or delaying that is poisonous.
  • Re whether and how to choose a counselor etc.: encourage them to go see several. Jointly. Some are great, many are incompetent, some just feed off a bad situation and make things worse. A good counselor should be able to communicate in both of their styles and genuinely help them surface and articulate what's bad about the relationship, in an impartial constructive respectful way. Believe it or not this is a rare skillset. They might well need to talk to at least half a dozen. Encourage each of them to identify a few counselors, or get a list from referrals/ Yellow Pages/ Yelp/ your medical insurance.
  • also encourage them to (jointly) have an initial consultation with a divorce mediator, at least to explore that scenario (including civilized arrangements about custody) before one of them gets litigious.
  • if one(/both) of them is having an affair or has lost interest in the other, this triggers very strong emotions; but looking for vengeance or running to litigious divorce lawyers does not help; it just drains the marital assets.

Some caveats:

  • don't triangulate between them. Don't become the middleman/ messenger/ interpreter/ referee/ confidant/ hostage negotiator/ support group/ sobriety counselor (read about the common patterns)
  • they should be talking to each other
  • if they want to be silent, or passive-aggressive, or whatever nonsense, don't get roped into that game. And let them know that violence and abusive behavior are crossing the line.
  • don't stand for either of them criticizing each other to you, or to other people, or holding events or family gatherings hostage. Let them know you'll walk out/hang up on that stuff, it's not healthy for any of you, it's not constructive. If they split up, it's up to each of them to deal with feelings of grief/loss/hurt/shame/betrayal, make new friendships, move on.
  • if they're simply unable to get along with each other under one roof, they could temporarily separate. They can flip a coin if they disagree about who should leave.

What can I do to prevent this divorce?

Ultimately, you can't control the situation (and even if you could you totally shouldn't - they married each other, it's up to them to take responsibility). Accepting that is the first hard emotional reality for you. I feel for you. Whatever happens now depends on them. You also need to take care of yourself. Don't let their marital outcome consume your life. Don't consider the outcome a verdict on how much each of them loves you. This is painful. Consider it will affect you a lot. Read about this. Don't let your schoolwork slip. Keep up your outside interests. Know who your friends are. Don't abuse substances.

If they ultimately do divorce, you have some input into custody. Don't let this decision become a tug-of-love, or alimony battle. If both of them are behaving badly, frankly you don't need to live with either of them, do you have other family or friends? (Also look into the concept of 'emancipated minor' in your state/country. Don't let yourself be used as a hostage in a custody/alimony battle).

If it happens, I would chose to stay with my mom. My dad can cook and drive, but my mom can't. There's a school bus in high school though.

These are only practical considerations. You can (and should) learn to cook; you can drive/ arrange a ride/ cycle/ use the bus. But there are way more fundamental issues here they need to resolve first. Only then can all three of you collectively figure out civilized living arrangements.

To an extent, you can try to help and encourage them towards figuring out how to resolve it for themselves. But you can't determine the outcome. And don't let your self-worth depend on it. You have your own identity, whatever happens.

smci

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 220

5The bullet items you listed are great for a marriage counselor or a more mature adult child, but the best advice really is to get this young man out of the middle of this situation. What his father did is grossly unfair and highly inappropriate. That's not to say it's uncommon, because it isn't. My mother told me and my brothers she wanted a divorce when I was 15 or 16, and like the OP, we told her we wanted to live with the other parent (our father in our case). They wound up not divorcing, but we resented her for getting us involved. – Julie in Austin – 2015-01-29T05:52:22.317

@JulieinAustin : we don't know whether his father did anything at all. Maybe he had already told his wife he wanted to split up and was telling the son after; admittedly not in a very gracious way. More information needed. The OP doesn't need to get involved and I gave hime some pointers to avoiding it. – smci – 2015-01-29T09:28:43.147

8

Like others have said, you can't really do anything to prevent your parent's divorce. It is their decision, not yours.

My parents went through cycles of separation, getting back together, divorce, remarriage, and a second divorce. This started when I was 11, and the second divorce was when I was 24. They are now both married to different people.

It was absolute hell for them, family, and close friends. Family and friends who worked hard to get them back together came to regret it.

I do have a few suggestions, some that other people have already made.

  • Do not take sides, no matter what the reasons for the marriage break-up were. No matter what (you think) you know, there will invariably be other things between them you don't know - and that are none of your business.

  • Make it clear to both of them you don't want to be a sounding board for problems with their marriage nor will you carry messages between them (i.e. they should talk with each other through their problems, not through you).

  • Keep in touch with both of them. Build a relationship with each them as individuals, and don't condition a relationship with either on them being together.

  • Encourage them to seek counseling, if they want to repair things. Drop it if either is adamant in not wanting counseling, or they don't want to reconcile.

  • Don't attempt to encourage or force them back together (e.g. emotional blackmail, highlighting obligations, refusing contact with one or the other to encourage them back together). Unless reconciling is their choice, it will not work.

  • You don't need to hide from them the fact that their break-up is, and will be, difficult for you. That is a given. However, don't use that as a lever to push them together.

  • Also, if they do reconcile, don't expect their relationship to be the same. The fact that separation and divorce has happened will change how they relate to each other, and it will take time for them to find a new balance.

Rob

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 220

Children are the victims of divorce. It's the child's prerogative to take sides, hate them both for it, blackmail emotionally, or whatever, even if it's unlikely to work. It's also a child's prerogative to help them get back together, by being a sounding board, carrying messages if they won't talk to each other, or whatever. Good advice on encouraging them to seek counseling. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-11T00:02:36.990

7

I'd like to offer a different opinion.

I don't think there's ever 'nothing' you can do.

You may not be able to prevent your parents divorce, but whether they do or they don't divorce it's still a very important moment in all your lives and it's important that you understand why they want to divorce. If you don't understand the situation then it becomes much harder to come to terms with. If they do divorce you'll have questions preying on your mind for a very long time. If they don't divorce, without knowing why you'll find yourself always worrying whenever there's a tiny argument. This is why it's important that you know.

Nobody here can tell you why your parents are considering divorce, only your parents know and only they can explain it to you. This is why my advice to you is to confront them about it - ask them outright, be it alone or together, why they want to divorce. The truth may hurt, but not knowing will hurt more.

If you understand why they are considering divorce you can form an opinion on whether it's a good thing or a bad thing and then express your opinion to your parents. Parents always value their kid's opinions, and even if they don't agree with you they'll acknowledge your opinion, which is another important thing.

All in all, whatever happens, make sure that your parents know that you love them both and that whatever they choose to do you'll support them both, even if you don't agree with their decision. It might be hard, but it's better for everyone to part on good terms, even if you change your mind later in life.

Pharap

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 357

5

Perhaps some useful things to remember:

  • It's not your fault
  • It takes two to Tango, but only one to stop.
  • People change little over their lifetime (Despite their attestations to the contrary). What has the greatest impact in relationships is the unspoken stuff, particularly the stuff that leads to harbouring resentment.
  • Hang in there.
  • Watch and learn what doesn't work as it will influence your own relationships.
  • It's not your fault

Despite what happens, the sun rises and sets each day. Time passes. It is difficult for all at first however, it does get easier with time. As long as it is not acrimonious and they can continue a civil -or better relationship you may find that the opportunities that open up outweigh the disadvantages.

tedshred

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 51

3

As nearly everyone here is suggesting, there is nothing you can do. It's tough and not the answer you want to hear, but it is true. You're in that tough place in life where you recognize problems and desire to remedy them, but you lack experience to even know where to start or if you should even try. You're probably smart enough to learn what to do and even properly apply that knowledge, but even then adults will mostly ignore any bit of wisdom you might have on an issue, especially your own parents.

There are a few things you can do. The most important is to do your best to facilitate kind and loving behavior between your parents, despite the fact they are separating. In other words, stress to them the importance that they at least get along. Divorce is hard enough by itself, and ten times harder when the two divorcing can't even sit down to have Christmas dinner together. Their marriage might dissolve, but your family doesn't have to. Keep the peace and your family will stay together even if their marriage does not.

The next thing you can do is personally come to terms with what is happening. You need to accept that your parents are individual persons with their own ideas. The sooner you accept that they will do what they will, the sooner you can quickly move past the anger, sorrow, and depression that comes with this kind of thing. Which leads to the final thing you can do.

Be sensitive to your parents feelings and thoughts about this. Whether you believe they are acting in the right or not, be sure to keep the peace between you and them. I strongly suspect you love both your parents and they both love you. Do not forget that and keep showing them that love daily even though you are not happy with their decisions.

In summary:

You cannot stop what they are going to do. What you can do:

  1. Keep the peace between your parents.
  2. Accept that your parents will do what they will and you may not agree with it, but you do have to cope with it.
  3. Keep the peace between you and your parents. Do not hate them for this. Instead, make the extra effort to show them more love even though it hurts.

You number one goal should be to help the family still resembles one even if they do divorce.

fredsbend

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 190

1Although OP can try their best to keep the peace between themselves and each of their parents, I don't think it's really within his control to keep the peace between one parent and the other parent. :( – A E – 2015-01-31T18:35:51.510

@AE Control? No. Alas, we can control no one's decisions and actions, even our own children's. "Facilitate kind and loving behavior"? Yes, indeed. Every one of us has the choice and power to be a positive influence on those around us. – fredsbend – 2015-02-01T02:38:29.267

3

This is a really hard thing.

Maybe if you talked to your dad about how much it would hurt you if they split. Really seriously, not like "hey dad please don't get divorced I'd be sad".

Ask him to really try and talk to your mom about what's bothering him. I'm sure they could work it out.

Cassie Sherman

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 57

1

Your dad told you he wants a divorce, but did he say he is actually filing for one? Your mom may not know at all yet.

Everyone's story is different, and actively trying to do something about it might be the very thing that guarantees it happens. So first things first, try to remain calm.

Now, let me tell you a little about what I know as a parent. It might give some insight on what they're going through.

There are very few things that ever happen in one's life that causes so much chaos as having kids. Even when the horror is at its highest, you still love them. Even people I know who are what I would call less than ideal parents say the same. Like Nick said, it's not your fault. You might be the only thing keeping them together.

But as a parent, every little thing makes every day a thousand times harder. You think keeping your room clean is hard? Try working all day every day and cleaning up after everyone, cooking every meal, undoing the damage caused by kids during the day, diapers, bills, and everything else that relentlessly pummels you - all while never being thanked for it, or even being treated like everyone expects you to be the only one doing everything. When the force is hard enough, even something as simple as not closing a pantry door can drive you to resent the people you love.

I say it harshly like that because it happens to even the kindest and most positive people. When I feel the anger coming, it feels like it is attacking me. Somewhere inside I know that I am not really upset just because a door was left open, but that it seems like nobody appreciates anything I do anymore, and that my whole existence is simply for the purpose of perpetuating other people's comforts while my own interests, hobbies, and happiness fade away. I don't let it get me. I laugh now, thinking how silly so many of the worst things really are. It is possible this is how your dad feels, but it is possible he has not yet learned how to let go of the resentment and try to remember that your mom may also be his friend. A good friend would want their friends to be happy. In some cases it means enduring. In some cases it means changing the definition of their friendship. In some cases it means leaving.

I can't say for a fact that your parents can get along anymore. We don't know why your dad says he can't stand your mom. But supposing it was possible for them to forget the tension, it might be good to remember the things they used to love doing and why they loved doing them. I would not suggest you try to arrange this, by the way. I am not a professional by any means. But passive inception and being positive could trigger something that gets them to focus on what they loved about being together, and possibly think less about whatever the fantasy of being apart is.

So much of the pressures of being a parent faded for me when I realized the only thing oppressing me was me, not my family. They all have the same amount of chaos attacking them, so instead of getting angry, I just understand that sometimes they need a break. Sometimes they need to sleep half the day away. And sometimes they just need to leave a pantry door open.

In short, everyone is human. Everyone deals with their issues in their own way. There's no universal answer that can correct their marriage. But statistically speaking, getting angry about it or behaving irrationally will not help.

I'm pretty sure you don't want your family structure to change, but have you thought about why? What is it exactly that you fear most about your parents getting divorced?

Kai Qing

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 2 867

8I'm not quite sure if this is helpful, or if it would make one feel bad about being brought into the world only to burden parents so. This is far from a balanced representation. Parenting is often thankless, but the child didn't ask to be brought into the world, the parents decided. The impact of a child on a parent's life is enormous. I like the saying that it destroys your life, and replaces it with something better than you could ever have imagined. – anongoodnurse – 2015-01-28T04:24:43.590

@anongoodnurse - I didn't exactly say the thanklessness comes from the child. I mean that one parent may feel like the other parent is doing nothing and fails to acknowledge the amount of work they're doing. In general I am saying that both parties may be inaccurately evaluating their roles as parents because the intensity of parenthood may blind you to the amount of difficulty the other parent is experiencing right along with you. I don't want to paint over the fact that parenthood is extremely difficult. I don't think it helps to shield children from the challenge we face for them – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T06:40:36.470

in addition, as said by both Nick and myself, I love my kids even though I feel I have endured a slightly higher level of insanity on their behalf. In no way have I ever felt the struggle of parenthood is due to them, but more in the reality that I was not prepared to face the unique challenges of parenthood. I can draw anything in the world, but picking up the same mess day after day is the very definition of psychotic to me. It changes your perspective on things and that very change can emphasize the irritation of even the most common differences. That irritation can be misread as resentment – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T06:46:55.710

1I only addressed your answer, not Nick's. It is not quite clear in your post that you are speaking about the other parent; it should be. Try reading your entry from the viewpoint of a child facing the breakdown of her parents' marriage might give you a perspective on how someone else might read it. – anongoodnurse – 2015-01-28T07:09:57.160

2Well, to me that's how it was written. Personally if I were going through something like that I might want a little more "why" and not as much "not your fault" or statistical information on resolution. You get a lot of people saying abstract phrases that generalize but not a whole lot explaining what might be going through their minds specifically. I don't expect a teenager to be able to make a psychological profile, but hearing how someone else has felt might give them a chance to identify whether or not that is happening in their house, and in turn maybe a way to help clear it out. – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T16:30:45.770

Your comment is well-intentioned, but the empathy is hit-and-miss and it needs a little preambling e.g. "Often in a marriage, feelings of resentment and being unappreciated happen. They each need to tell the other honestly what their experience is". Also "statistically speaking, getting angry about it or behaving irrationally will not help" may be true but is not constructive about what OP can or should do. – smci – 2015-01-28T21:11:49.647

2@smci - I agree on the last part not being terribly constructive, but I think I disagree on the honesty notion from a certain context. Yeah families should be honest but that doesn't mean the first step is to openly discuss whatever it is that's bothering them. My wife and I almost never argue, but I think we both often get upset at one another. I tell her that I don't express myself at every chance deliberately because I don't want her to confuse passing irritations with actual problems. If I can rationalize it out of existence, she never hears of whatever my complaint is. – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T21:16:12.640

1also, I don't think empathy was the goal precisely. I was trying to suggest he observes his parents and see if there are fond memories that could be surfaced with a little passive positive conversation or suggestion. That may not be the right thing to do so I didn't outright suggest it. But when I get upset at someone, I try to think back on a great day, like picturing them eating ice cream. It's hard to despise that image, and maybe such a simple thought can make someone remember why they loved someone, and that thought can surpass a pantry door being left open every day. – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T21:19:13.133

@Kai Qing: "express themselves honestly" means concisely, about the important stuff - not "set out a laundry list of petty grudges e.g. You didn't take the trash out three times last August" – smci – 2015-01-28T21:21:45.300

Yeah I get empathy wasn't your goal. The OP seems to be aged 11-15 and likely going through a uniquely painful and overwhelming period of life. Whereas you are grown up and have a pretty good marriage. – smci – 2015-01-28T21:23:17.803

"I was trying to suggest he observes his parents and see if there are fond memories that could be surfaced with a little passive positive conversation or suggestion." - but if there are strong feelings of resentment and unhappiness (as we know on at least his father's side), there's no point beating about the bush. I agree that conversation does not need to be unpleasant or blaming but it does need to get to the point. Yes they need to figure out why they married each other and whether they want to remain married. – smci – 2015-01-28T21:25:16.733

@smci - Right, but elaboration clarifies the meaning of both our applications of the phrase. I was a teenager once too. We all were. Having kids and a healthy marriage now just means I have been through a whole lot and have figured out how to reduce the impact of issues that could have otherwise torn us all apart. I'm thankful for your input too. I knew I was asking for trouble posting something like this. If such a resource was available when I was a kid I may have been able to see perspectives that could have spared me from a lot of pain – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T21:26:37.833

@Kai Qing I'm saying your answer is perfectly valuable and helpful if you can only clarify the empathy, preamble it, explain your constructive purpose, rephrase the harsh-seeming logical statements. Also curious for your reaction to my answer. – smci – 2015-01-28T21:27:54.783

1@smci - thanks. Let me think about how I might construct that. I'll edit when I figure that out. – Kai Qing – 2015-01-28T21:28:53.087

I for one like this answer. There's no point hiding the painful truths of this world, and one of those painful truths are that children can be an immense burden. It is not the fault of the child, and it's not the fault of the parent, it's just human nature and the structure of modern society. – Pharap – 2015-01-29T01:47:07.167

1

You can't. I'm sorry. It sucks, it really does.

Most importantly this situation is not your fault. But unfortunately you can't stop it because it's something the two people involved have to solve for themselves.

You can ask them to go to family counseling where you could voice your feelings and if they refuse you could seek your school guidance counselor (or religious leader if that is more comfortable for you) to have someone to talk to yourself.

RachelC

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 2 484

I have tried to express but they keep saying what the other person does wrong mostly my mom how do I talk to her – Roo – 2015-11-08T22:55:43.957

0

Yes you can do something. I have seen broken marriages turn around by coming to God through Jesus. If you rely on reasoning then you will only get so far and probably fail, as most of the other answers have said. However if you recognize that we are made in the image of God, and come to him, then everything can change and it does. Turn to God firstly yourself, he won't hear your prayers unless you let go of whatever junk you carry - find a Bible and read Psalm 66. Repent and be baptized. Once you are willing to come to God, then you can resist the work that the enemy is doing (see John 10:9-10), and pray, taking authority over the situation that your parents eyes will be opened (2 Cor 4:4). Bless you, there is hope. I have seen miracles occur to save marriages in a short time once peoples eyes are opened.

Andy

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 53

7This advice is really only applicable to couples (or a child of a couple) who are Christian. It also relies on waiting for an outside agent/actor to intervene, rather than providing proactive suggestions for the OP to try. – Erica – 2015-01-30T01:46:11.353

2@Erica Your comments reveal that you are angry with Christianity. Please stop bashing those who give advice that involves turning to Jesus. – likejiujitsu – 2015-02-08T18:27:49.047

4@likejiujitsu I don't understand why you perceive this as "bashing," since providing on-topic answers that are widely relevant is a cornerstone of all StackExchange sites. I noted that this Answer is narrowly focused and provides very little "active" ideas for the OP to work with. If Andy had proposed a similarly narrow solution with a secular focus (or an atheist focus, or Any Other Religion focus), my comment would have been almost exactly the same. – Erica – 2015-02-08T22:06:46.720

@likejiujitsu - I see nothing offensive whatsoever with Erica's comment (I, too, am a Christian). Don't look for offense where none is intended or given. – anongoodnurse – 2015-03-21T23:55:09.600

1@Erica - Proactive is in the eyes of the beholder. Some Christians - perhaps most? - feel this is the first step. – anongoodnurse – 2015-03-21T23:57:20.327

I might add that not all Christians believe you have to have repented fully before you can pray, whether or not having repented helps prayer to be more powerful. Rather, some believe you should pray always, and prayer is more than words.

@Erica I'd like to see the rule that says answers must be widely relevant, if you can point me to it. Narrow answers can actually be widely relevant with a little abstraction. Also, lots of narrow answers can add up to make something broader, anyway. However, that's beside the point, I guess. Perhaps not everyone likes abstraction, unfortunately. – Shule – 2015-04-07T11:07:21.887

1

@Shule Comments and up/downvotes are a method of community moderation of content that are applied instead of "rules." A good answer is able to stand on its own merits, and is relevant to both the OP and any future searchers who have the same issue. Ref. How to answer. While it's possible for the OP (or future searchers) to take a seed of useful information from the current Answer, it could be a better Answer. As you've noted, repentance is not a prerequisite for prayer; Andy's given a pretty narrow response.

– Erica – 2015-04-07T12:31:22.327

@Erica Yes, you're probably right, and thanks for the link. Your comment was most insightful, and answers my question. Time to read that link. – Shule – 2015-04-07T23:11:41.660

1@Erica I'm not saying suggesting prayer is out of the question, though, by agreeing with you, but the answerer should probably give reasons why it would be helpful that could apply to those who don't believe in prayer, or else say that they're intending that part of the answer for if they happen to believe in prayer or are willing to try it, while deferring to the questioner's choice and not trying to practice compulsion or assume beliefs. – Shule – 2015-04-07T23:18:25.100

1@Shule I understand -- and agree, prayer can be powerful, productive, and helpful in many situations for many readers. Your reinterpretation is quite apt! – Erica – 2015-04-07T23:26:27.023

@Erica I am an atheist. Yes, you are bashing Christianity. Most English speaking families are Christian, and for those families, this is probably the most useful answer. And getting the entire family to pray together, as suggested in one of the comments to the original question, is something the son can do. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-11T00:13:13.473

@WarrenDew your atheism is irrelevant to your point, no I am not bashing Christianity, and while this action may be useful if the OP and his family are devout Christians, that doesn't mean it's a "good" answer based on the standards StackExchange seeks to have. – Erica – 2016-10-11T12:11:50.860

0

I know you're young for this.

Nobody has a life manual. But I can tell you one thing: Even if the divorce of your parents seems to be a bad thing and its gonna hurt you, EVERYTHING is for GOOD. You'll become a stronger person, you'll value the meaning of family much more than your parents did so you'll be able, in the future, to make your own family without making the same mistakes your parents did. You are in this world to became a better human been than your antecesors and hopefully, help others in your way. The more you suffer, the stronger you'll become. Just move on little buddy, I know it sounds a little thug but I know you will get over it because it seems that you want to solve your problem. You're in the right way, believe me :).

Don't forget to share your feelings with a good friend or a relative. It's healthy to talk about it.

You have a friend here for everything I can help.

Regards little buddy.

bugul

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 19

0

Divorce is something hard, as a teen you get affected a lot from that, the attention and the care you seek is not available all the time. Because you parents are already busy with there problems. Your grades at school might get effected also because you also be distracted.

Stopping the divorce ? well sometime it is good your parents to get divorced, because they are not able to understand each other and they are not having a good relationship together , so separation will let them feel conforteble , I am saying that because of an experience , my parents are divorced , trust me I am really glad because they are divorced, I am really having good time with them , I can see them whenever I want and they are happy.

Moudiz

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 257

0

So, there's nothing a teenager can do?

I am not that sure. While children are never the reason for a divorce, they are still a powerful influence in the family.

Here's a video from the Robbins Madanes Institute. Hannah, a 13 yearold has made two suicide attempts because her parents were fighting.

http://rmtcenter.com/what-to-assume-about-your-child/

After a 60 minute talk and the six days of the seminar, the child gained the confidence and the knowledge to influence her mother and eventually her father. Watch it completely. Some people merely judge the seminar setting and miss all the relevant points.

She stopped being a victim of her parent's crazyness. She stopped siding with her mother, understood both parents and was finally able to do the right things.

Haunt_House

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 222

-2

You cannot force your parents to stay married.

But if your parents are under the illusion that "children suffer in a bad marriage" or "the kids will understand" or "it will all work out for the best", you can speak up. And now is the best time to do that.

Consider telling your dad,

"I love you. I love Mom. I want you to be happy together. Divorce is evil."

If your dad is neither alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, nor violent consider telling him that divorce is worse (for the survivors) than death. (I have seen strong evidence for this in the work of Wallerstein, Gottman, and Malloy.)

If either you or either of your parents is religious, ask your dad if he has talked about what he is going through with the priest/pastor/minister.

If you can afford it, give him a copy of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein. She followed up with the children of "best case scenario" divorces in a San Francisco suburb -- and the results were, um, not good. If you cannot afford it, borrow a copy from a library and lend it to him.

Some other good resources:

Jasper

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 192

The risk of starting off with strong statements like that ("is evil", "worse than death") is that it can very easily sound like hyperbole, particularly when coming from a teenage child. It could be better to start off with "here are some studies I've read and strong risks associated with divorce, here are some resources that may help you," etc. Other than that, I think you have a fairly well-balanced answer. – Erica – 2015-01-31T13:19:44.933

5My parents got divorced when I was very young. Neither were violent, depressed, suicidal, or alcoholics. The divorce was hard on me, but you know what would have been harder? Growing up in a house with both my parents fighting with each other all the time. Divorce worse than death? That's a gross and naïve oversimplification. – None – 2015-01-31T14:43:29.700

@Beofett -- The reason I implied "Don't say this if your dad is alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, or violent" is that a tiny (but disproportionate) fraction of people with those conditions might misinterpret the statement as "Why don't you just kill yourself?" or a dare to commit murder. Malloy's Why Men Marry Some Women (and Not Others) found that the grieving after a divorce lasted longer, and made the survivors less likely to remarry, than the death of a spouse, with one exception. …

– Jasper – 2015-01-31T18:30:10.777

…The exception was that if a spouse spent years caring for a terminally ill spouse, they were even less likely to remarry. Wallerstein's and Gottman's results are consistent, but not as clearly stated. – Jasper – 2015-01-31T18:32:37.630

It's sad that people are so willing to downvote one of the few answers that actually answers the question. – Warren Dew – 2016-10-11T00:15:35.553

-3

Ask your parents to get help for their marriage. Try to find an organization like agme.org that helps marriages that are in trouble. Encourage them to give it a try. Talk to someone that both parents respect and will listen to - your church pastor, respected family member etc.

I feel badly for you - be sure to lean on God at this time.

Also try: Go to Focus on the Family's website and ask to speak with a counselor. They are very experienced and can help you. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/ (1-800-232-6459) (M-F: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. MST).

likejiujitsu

Posted 2015-01-27T23:27:25.167

Reputation: 137

9Leaning on God isn't particularly useful if you're an atheist or buddhist. I won't downvote, but it's not good to make assumptions about the OP's faith, no matter how good your intentions are. – Pharap – 2015-01-29T02:29:46.667

2Yes, OP should encourage his parents to seek help, BUT there are multiple possible paths for this. Professional counseling can be more effective than conversations with untrained people (particularly family members), particularly if the problems are deep-seated or either partner does not want to discuss the true problems with loved ones or a community leader. Secondly, the centrality of Christian faith to the answer (in particular the Assemblies of God Marriage Encounter) makes it irrelevant and even offensive if the OP (and any future readers) does not subscribe to those tenets. – Erica – 2015-01-29T13:29:26.913

1@Erica I have listed one solution that has worked for many people. AGME seminars are open to all, atheist and Buddhist included. I have no connection to them. For you to tell me that I must not mention at all that faith in Jesus to heal their marriage is a solution, is frankly offensive. OP and future readers are free to ignore advice that has worked for many, including myself. – likejiujitsu – 2015-01-29T19:32:55.377

2I did not say you "must not" mention faith-based solutions, but rather observed you do not mention any other options. My comment was a critique of the way your answer is composed, not an insult towards your personal beliefs or even the mention of religion. I apologize that my intended point was not more clearly phrased. – Erica – 2015-01-29T19:48:39.873

1@Erica I will only mention options that I know have actually worked. Professional counselors are usually very expensive (over $100/hour), do not work as well as advertised, take months and years, and drain finances out of the marriage, resulting in more problems. For those whom professional counselors have been a solution, they are free to mention as an option. – likejiujitsu – 2015-01-29T20:01:29.637

1Why not include that in your answer, if you feel it is relevant? (Cite if possible, or note that it is anecdotal or personal experience. Compare the cost of an AGME weekend, with comparative success rates.) Without that context your current answer just seems incomplete. – Erica – 2015-01-29T20:05:02.650