An Open Letter to Anyone Whose Parents Are Getting Divorced

It happened — your parents sat you down and told you they're splitting up. Whether you saw this coming or not, it's undoubtedly shocking, and there are a million thoughts running through your head. But before you freak out about where you're spending Thanksgiving, take a deep breath and know that everything will be OK. If you're 12 or 22, the questions remain the same . . .

Is it my fault? How can I stop this from happening? What could I have done differently to prevent this? Will I have to move? What about all my friends? Will I have to change schools? What will my friends think? Why can't my parents be like Lisa's parents? Should I judge my mom and dad? Should I be mad at them? Will I still visit my family in Florida? What will happen on my birthday? Do my parents hate me? Do my parents hate each other? Ew, will they get married to other people? Do I have to pick sides? WHY? WHY? WHY?

The list goes on, but it's important to know that generally speaking, your parents have likely figured out all these things before they decided to sit you down. They thought this through and know that they will be happier if separated.

They have worked out the logistics, but it's up to you to decide how you want to handle the emotions that come with a divorce. You're allowed to be weak, freak out, and ask all the questions listed above, but know that over time, it will work out. It doesn't always come easily, and all the questions may not be answered immediately, but you will absolutely adjust to these changes over time. It may seem impossible, but think about your parents and know that you did absolutely nothing to cause this.

What comes next may be an emotional roller coaster, but you will grow, and you will learn from this. You can form even stronger relationships with your parents individually, because you are their top priority. They want to give you a happy home and a happy family life, but they know they cannot do this together.

Talk to them about your fears, find support in a therapist or a friend who has been through this before, but try not to keep your emotions stuffed deep inside.

I know it's easier said than done; I've been there. My parents told me they were splitting when I was in 10th grade, and after going through all the motions and speaking to a therapist, I found it to be incredibly helpful to speak with my peers who had gone through the same thing. After one coincidental conversation, two friends and I decided we wanted to start a club for students to talk about their unique domestic situations . . . they didn't even have to talk, just listen, and find peace in knowing they're not alone. We called it "Wishbone" because wishbones split, but the pieces are just as sturdy apart as they are as one. With the help of the school social worker, we provided a judgment-free zone for anyone who wanted to join. Many schools have programs like Wishbone, and talking to the school social worker was the first step for us.

It's just one example, and it could be a first step for you, too, if you want to.

Over time, you will learn that true love does exist, and maybe your parents weren't meant to be married forever. But, they were meant to try because they had you!