Monta Vista Verdadera 21840 McClellan Road Cupertino, CA 95014 October 2008
Dear Reader: Each year Verdadera continues to bring you the bluntly honest issues which Monta Vista stu dents face every day to your doorstep. Every issue attempts to bring to the surface struggles and triumphs within our community, which would otherwise remain buried under a layer of protective emotion. What teenagers go through in their daytoday lives is much more than meets the eye and each one of the students at Monta Vista have their own story to tell. Verdadera is that hidden story brought to life, a chance for all to be heard on some of the most difficult yet pressing subjects to voice. However, we cannot continue to provide issues without the continued support from generous readers such as you for Verdadera is a non profit organization financed entirely by donations. We ask for aid so as we can continue our publication and hope we can count on you to help. With grateful appreciation, Monta Vista Verdadera Staff
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Divorce October 2008 Verdadera is a publication created by and for Monta Vista teens for the purpose of instigating communication concerning the 'real world' of high school within the community. Each month, an issue on a topic relevant to the lives of our students is sent home for reading by parents and students alike. We encourage you to discuss and explore the issues and stories, as the publication aims not only to offer an outlet for expression but to improve our lives. Keep in mind that the emotions that flow through the text and the feelings behind the words could be those of your child, your classmate, or your best friend. While we do not edit submissions, we aim to publish personal experiences, not opinion articles. Please utilize all the resources present in the publication and feel free to email comments and feedback. The Verdadera staff thanks you for your interest and support. This issue includes stories about divorce, how it has affected students, and how badly they have been hurt by it.
Student Submissions Okay. I don't know how to start this. So let me try stating first that my parents are sepa rated. They haven't been together since I was little. I really didn't care because I didn't really understand at first what was happen ing. When I got older I realized how every body else had a dad and I didn't. I'd ask my mom questions about my dad since I didn't have any vivid recollections of him. All she really told me was," you don't need a father". To this day I still live by those exact words. The reason she told me this was be cause she, my mother, was the one who went out of her way to do everything that was possible for me to succeed and have a
good life. Moving to Cupertino was for the better, she wanted me to enter a really good high school. She was both a mother and fa ther the years my dad was absent; the years were he didn't call to say Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas or call to find out how I was doing. People ask me "Do you miss having a father?" And my reply will always be, "I don't have one" or "I don't need one". Not typical or familiar answers. When you grow up with out one of your parents in your life you ad just to not having them around, especially if you lose them at a young age. Parents are 2
suppose to be there for you when you're down and even when you're up. Parents have to stand beside you in any situation. A parent that does not play its part in your life, your decisions, and your ways of living re sults to a parent who is negligent. Many times I have seen kids go the wrong path be cause of parental problems. A nasty divorce or separation can lead sometimes to depres sion, drugs, underage sex, and suicide. I'm glad I haven't dealt with any of these prob lems; problems which direct you to a lifestyle of anguish and hell. I'm asked this all the time, something I spend my time thinking about; wanting to devote my time and energy towards helping kids who've gone through crappy divorces or separations emotionally and mentally. I'm not the right person to really help you feel or realize the pain and damage that your parents have put you through. I m mad at my dad but I also thank him for the fact that he let me be with my mother. If it wasn't for his selfishness I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be writing this pa per at the moment. Though I have to say he has tried coming back into my life but I wouldn't let him enter. I always say I feel no pain or I don't even think about him; I actu ally rarely think about him, but the moment that he tried to walk back in and open the door which I locked, I started feeling the pain, it all started building up inside. The moment that all of that pain just exploded he knew; I knew there was no opening up the door. We went our separate ways as we had done 8 years age. No need to remember the past. All the pain was hidden, stuck inside me trying to come out. I pretended to like my dad, pretended that I even knew who and what type of person he was. When I saw him again I just couldn't pretend anymore, I was tired of pretending. I guess things happen for the better. I love the person I have be come today. The person my mom modeled me out to be since birth. At the end the per son I really need to thank is god and my mother. I've taken risks with my life and done the impossible. I'm just glad now that one of my many hard decisions has been de
molished. Not having a father to be there with me has hurt emotionally but hasn't de stroyed my mental peace. The way I see things is that life is too short to let yourself think about what could have been. What could have been could have not been good for you necessarily. Three things to remem ber and live by are: Forget the past. Live in the present. And Prepare for the future.
"When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn't a sign that they "don't understand" one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to." ~Helen Rowland ___________________________________ _ Where to begin? Let's just start that my parents have been separated for quite a while now. It's been so long it feels practically like they are divorced. How do I feel about it? Well, nothing really. Everyone always expects the child(ren) to feel hatred or sadness over their parents' divorce. Not everyone is like that. Well at least I'm not. I often wondered if there was something wrong with me, lacking the emotions that a typical child feels towards their parents' divorce. But I've come to realize that this is probably better than moping around because that really doesn't change anything does it? I probably don't feel these emotions because my father wasn't much of a father figure to me, so all my life I've felt as if I was raised by one parent. That's probably why I don't see divorce as such a big deal. To me, divorce is a better option. Of course I feel bad over their separation but I know my parents feel way better and less angry when they aren't together. Why should they have to suffer for one person? To me that's just a 3
bit selfish. Everyone has their own right to do whatever they choose to. Divorce. Its not something kids want to hear even think about. The truth is 50% of marraiges end with divorces. As a kid I grew up with my mom, my life didn't suck after my parents got divorced but I always wanted the feeling of having both parents and obiviously I wasn't that fortunate. My birth father was a selfish person or at least thats what my mom tells me, I actually don't quite remember him at all since I was only 3 or 4 at the time and honestly could care less about my parents. The question I want to ask people these days is what is the point of getting married if your going to most likely end in a divorce! I HATE IT when people throw around the word “divorce,” I guess most just don't understand the seriousness of this issue therefore treat it like its not big deal. Take my aunt for an example, shes filing for divorce right now after a 15 year marriage. Personally when my mom told me this, I was in SHOCK ok and sort of at the same time in disgusted.....i mean seriously that sucks!!!! OH yeah and did I mention the part about how everyone isn't going to tell my cousin his own parents are getting divorced??? ITS SO MESSED UP!!!! I really want to tell me cousin but my mom is literally going to kill me if I do though so screw that idea. Anyways I do think its my position to help my cousin through this time if he does find out, he obiviously has the right to know. Well I basically grew up with my stepfather after my mom's 1st marriage. I can't say I'm happy all the time because i'm NOT!!! My stepdad is the type of person who was really nice when I was little but now I think of him as a total asshole and I mean it. He has the stupidest rules that are supposed to protect from me from the bad things in highschool but seriously screw his fing rules. I believe he is there more to ruin my social life, to most of my friends i'm sort of sheltered from reality sometimes but that for sure is not
f*cking fault right? I often think disagree with my parents......especially my dad aka stepdad's jacked up attitude toward everything. They believe my life is equal to homework and more homework and that if I don't have good grades i'm never going to college. hahaha this makes me laugh since they didn't go to the nicest colleges either and are pushing like theres no tomorrow. I REALLY THINK MY FAMILY HAS PROBLEMS. We need to go to see a therapist sometime before one of us really hurts one another both emotionally and physically. I often wonder if my mom's decision to marry this freak was right or wrong cuz for all I know as of right now, I DON'T GET ALONG WITH HIM AND HE'S MESSING WITH MY PERFECT HIGHSCHOOL LIFE!!!!!!!! I hate my freedom taken away and thats exactly what you've done to me after these lonnngggg 7 years in hell. I HATE HIM. HE CAN DIE AND I WOULDN'T EVEN GIVE A SH*T! btw no your not always right and stop thinking you are cuz U SUCK AT BEING A DAD IM GLAD I WON'T EVER SEE YOU AGAIN IN 2 YRS...CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT DAY TO COME ___________________________________ _ "If you made a list of reasons why any couple got married, and another list of the reason for their divorce, you'd have a lot of overlapping." ~Mignon McLaughlin ___________________________________ _ Growing up, I thought that my family was perfect. In my mother's family of 4 children, my mother was married, my uncle was married, one of my aunts was married and as to my last aunt...well, there was still time. I do not have too much personal experience with divorce, so lets focus in on my uncle and his family. When I was 5 or 6 my uncle got married and our little branch of the family welcomed her kindly. Our family is pretty tight and we celebrate birthdays and 4
holidays as a unit and she was of course invited. With her she brought her daughter from a previous marriage. Being young, I did not realize the dynamics of the situation. But now looking back, I realize that she bothered some of my family. I remember one time, we going out to a fairly nice restaurant and everyone was dressed appropriately in conservative clothes and then in she walks in a denim mini skirt. She also wore lots of heavy makeup in contrast with the rest of the family. If you looked at our family, you could tell that she was the outlier but never the less ,we accepted he simply blaming any differences on the fact that she had a past before coming to our family. Everything was functioning fine until we found out that my aunt was cheating on my uncle. Honestly, I was in shock. I didn't understand how this could happen to my uncle and was very confused and my little haven turned into a dystopia. My uncle and aunt of course got a divorce. The only problem was that my uncle and Aunt had already had my little cousin together and the custody battles were gruesome. Eventually everything was divided including their house. My uncle moved back in with my grandparents and my exaunt lives somewhere in San Jose. As i have grown up I have noticed some aspects of my cousin that stem from not having a constant environment. For example, as much as i hate to say it, my cousin manipulates facts between her two households. She also exploits the facts the fact that my uncle feels like its his fault that she doesn't have a two parent home. Other things have to do with learning and not having parents who read to them every night and can provide the same consistency as one household Recently, my uncle invited my sister and I to my cousins birthday. He bought tickets to Great America. I assumed it would just be the three of us. However, when we got there, I was surprised to discover that my exaunt
and her son that was conceived while married to my uncle were accompanying us. I later learned that my uncle payed for all the tickets. The whole situation infuriated me. I did not understand how we would ever be able to walk around the park together for a day. The most surprising thing was how civil my uncle is to my exaunt. I am not sure if I would have enough inner strength to be so courteous to someone who had shook my life by its foundation.The worst part was that her son was so cute yet I realized he was at the root of the problem that had changed my uncles life forever. I was emotionally confused. Here I was and I knew exactly what he was and I felt like I should be mad at him. Yet, at the same time I realized that none of this was really his fault. I still do not know what to think about the incident. I am mostly concerned about my cousin. I do not think the my exaunt is setting the right example. She let my ex cousins boyfriend "sleepover" and she consequently became pregnant. When my excousin told her boyfriend, he tried to run her over with the car. He is now in jail. Ever hear the saying children's minds are like a sponge? Well if so, then what message does this send to my cousin. Her sister is 21 and with a baby. Does that mean that is okay for her too? I would really like my cousin to grow up in an environment where she doesn't have bad influences seeping in on her but what can you do? I think with my uncle present he made my aunt better but at the same time I wonder what would have happened if they had stayed together. I definitely think that divorce in this case was best for my uncle,but I often think about whether or not it was best for my cousin. Divorce. Not an uncommon word within our society today. Yet we still treat it as taboo; as if something once beautiful and hopeful has abruptly collapsed. It's amazing the blatant ignorance that is portrayed by so many. Some peo5
ple can't even begin to imagine the "tragedy" that is divorce. A failed marriage isn't a "tragedy," it's just life. Things happen and people change. No one controls the twisted ways of fate. What
I find interesting is that there are so many who believe divorce is an "all bad" thing. Nothing good can come of a divorce, correct? I don't believe so. My parents have been divorced since I was two or so. I can't recall any times of when I had one "normal" family, but I can imagine there wouldn't be a lot of happy memories. Knowing my parents for 16 years, I can understand why they divorced. Their stubborn personalities are so similar that you would have to wonder how in the world did they last ten years without killing each other. But I believe that is the only reason I do not resent their choice. I would not want to grow up in a house filled with tension and anger and I'm glad they made their decision before I could remember any of it. Another
benefit that comes with being the child of two sets of parents is that I am able to develop a sense of different personality types. All four of my parents are almost completely different from one another. All of them are strict (of course) but some are sweet and generous and some are witty and others are condescending and hurtful at times. Over the past however many years I've gained insight into how to handle being around many different personalities just by living with them all. I have learned how to make a good first impression as well as how to stand up for myself (even if it's against an authority figure). This family setup provided me with a sense of the di-
versity of persons in this world and how each is approached differently. Now
there are some unfortunate issues to being a child of divorced parents. It's hard to hear friends talk about happy family events or memories. It's hard to listen and not envy the solidity that comes with the word "family" from the mouth of a child who cannot possibly imagine the heartache you've experienced. It's difficult to explain the pain of knowing you come from a broken home and quite possibly will never know what it feels like to belong to a family 100% instead of 50% of two different families. To feel like a stranger in your own home for 10 years or to not be included in "family" trips you only hear about a week after they are back… it hurts. But you keep on moving and breathing because life never stops. You learn early on to just accept things as they are because they will never change no matter how long you dwell on them. The
one thing to remember is that they are still your family. They are there for you when you need them to be. If you can't talk to one of your parents, you now have a couple others to choose from. It's important to keep a good perspective on your situation if you are one of these children. They will always love you even if they don't love each other anymore. "Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass. After such a monumental assault on the heart, it takes years to amend all of the habits and attitudes that led up to it." ~Mary Kay Blakely
"Divorce wasn't a big thing for me. Of course, I wasn't a child shuttled from house to house every weekend because of a divorce. I wasn't a child who grew up in the middle of a fierce custody battle. My child hood experience with divorce extends to, and ends with, this: The Parent Trap. Yes, the movie with Lindsay Lohan way back when she was a cute, young girl. The Parent Trap was my experience with divorce, the whole sum of it. The Parent Trap, my edu cation about divorce, the movie where the divorced parents actually get married to each other again, and live happily ever after – heck, even their butlers get married to each other in the end. Clearly, I knew nothing about di vorce. Then, I met some kids at a party, whose parents were divorced. They seemed normal, and I didn't think too much of it. Then my mom, the typical Asian that she is, said, "Their parents gave them too much choice getting married. This is what hap pens." And I happen to agree, somewhat. The people who get married young, possibly just as a spur of the moment thing, or at a time when they don't really know what they want or who they are looking for, or perhaps out of necessity, those marriages tend to not last very long. But the few divorces I have actually seen outside of school have been that of Asian people that my parents and their friends know, who did not have an arranged marriage. As if that thing were to blame, exactly, I do not think so. But according to what I have seen, those marriages did not work out. And I, in my social circle, have not closely met an older couple who have had a successful love marriage. And that makes me worried. Maybe divorce isn't far off from affecting someone close to me after all. Maybe within a matter of five, six, sev en years, one of my close friends will be in this horrible situation."
For a couple with young children, divorce seldom comes as a "solution" to stress, only as a way to end one form of pain and accept another. ~(Mister) Fred Rodgers ___________________________________ I remember when my parents had a steady relationship. Well, barely. I see pictures though. We looked like quite a happy fami ly. Now, there is so much wrong with their relationship. I don't like to talk about it be cause people don't really understand how our family functions. We are not like other families, but there is a delicate balance in our family of things wrong. My mom covers her trail, and my dad doesn't ask questions. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but that's how things work. It kind of works out for me because since she does shady things herself I can get away with most anything without being asked questions. I have a lot more flexibility with my life than other people, which I enjoy. But at the same time it's just so messed up. Sometimes I wish they just stopped being so scared and got a divorce. That sounds ridiculous, but if they did they would be so much happier. When a woman is cheating on a man, there is nothing that will reverse it. When the man knows he is being cheated on but does nothing, nothing good will ever come back from the relation ship. I'm so sick and tired of all this that I have stopped caring. Apathy is one of the things I hate the most in the world. But I can honestly say I have become apathetic to the entire situation. Before I lived in Cupertino, I had friends who happened to almost all have divorced parents. I never really thought about it that much. Taken I was just a little kid. I just thought of it as normal life. But now that I am older and more observant of what hap pens in society, I think about these kinds of things more often. My parents are going to get a divorce. I often wonder how life will be when they get a divorce. I think it will be better because there is no way this could get 7
worse. Honestly sometimes I wish they would just hurry up and get it over with, and other times I'm really sad about it. I'm often really jealous of kids who have that parental support. I've always been pretty indepen dent, which I am proud of, but when I see my friends with parents who are always looking after them I get a little jealous. I can honeslty say I like my life, but imagining life differently is a little surreal. ___________________________________ _ "My mom's boyfriend loves the office too!" I reply to The Office fan sitting behind me in math rambling about how Jim didn't propose to Pam last night. "Wait, your mom's boyfriend?" Here it comes "How does your mom have a boyfriend?" Work with me here, "Oh! Are your parent's divorced?" I want to shout, No idiot! My mom is just openly cheating on my dad and I happen to know the man's favorite t.v. show, good job genius! I bite back my frustration and annoyance and put the sweet smile on my face, "Yes they are, for a while now." "Oh, that must be hard for you…." The awkward silence and it's over. I know they are dying to know why it happened, what my "hard" life must be like and how an innocent, Indian girl like me ended up the product of a divorce. I know I should be more understanding, but it frustrates me so much when people act like one of my parents is dead. I just want to shout I'M NOT SAD, STOP FEELING SORRY FOR ME!! Of course divorce has affected me and completely changed me life, but who says that has to be a bad thing? In many ways it made my life better. I'm very guilty of taking advantage of two parents who barely ever communicate and love more than ever getting two separate quiet places that I can call "home". I can't imagine living in a house with both my parents and am very grateful I don't. My parents got divorced for a reason, right? For me, divorce is everyday life it's just how I live my life. I guess in that sense I'm not
upset about it because how can you complain about life? I like that it makes me different and if anything I consider myself luckier than other MV kids. I don't live the traditional Indian life and I don't have the pressure other Indian families put on their kids. And if I do, it's completely split in half because I never get it the same time. What annoys me most is when people say, "Gosh if that happened to me, I think I would run away from home!" which is so ignorant and naïve. Life will ALWAYS through challenges at you, but that's okay. You keep moving, and you keep living, your life doesn't end when you are faced with one obstacle. That is what I learned when I was ten years old and it happened. I had to put my head up and look at the future. It hit me, I was only ten years old and had my entire life ahead of me, because of one incident was I just to stop my life there? I had so much to look forward to and had to move on. Even though I am seventeen now, I don't think I have been faced with a bigger challenge, ever. Not even the SATs or College Apps could beat what I went through. It made me a stronger person and I am so happy I lived through it. I can face any challenge now with dignity and I will NEVER let anything stop me because my parents are divorced. I don't use divorce as an excuse EVER for! poor grades, not reaching my potential or to take the easy way out. This is my life so don't complain to me you're stressed that your SAT is on Saturday, because frankly, I've had bigger. ___________________________________ _ "A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there's less of you." ~Margaret Atwood ___________________________________ _ I don't have a daddy. Well, I do, but he doesn't live in the same house. I live with mom. Just mom. No father. I see him on weekends. There's a 8
whole system. Once a week. Sometimes an entire weekend. I don't like it. We don't talk about it. No one talks about it. Hell, I envy people with real families. I can't call him Dad. Inside I know he's not. Dad would have been living with us. Watch me play little league. Take me bowling. Laugh. Cry. He didn't do it then, and now its too late. I think it has made me different. I don't always get “people.” Am I afraid to be like him? Or end up like my mom? Being alone isn't the answer, but it makes me feel better, safer. Please, god. Just fill the emptiness. ___________________________________ _ I swim at this pool in my neighborhood. Its a nice place, a typical pool with marginally attentive lifeguards, teenagers doing flips off the diving board, kids rough housing on the lawn, and parents blissfully ignoring them as they chat about nothing in particular. Every year we get new members as new families come and others leave. This year was no different. In particular, a father with two sons came in one day, letting his children loose upon the grounds. They were about fourteen or fifteen, old enough to impress themselves upon the world and young enough to be swatted away as a nuisance. They were loud and energetic, and invited others to join in on their water games. I liked them, played with them, and had a good time. One day I asked them if they were brothers or best friends. They didn't look the same, but did everything together. I realized my faux pas too late, and there was an awkward silence. “My mother married his dad.” Ah. Then we played on as if it didn't happen and didn't matter. Because it didn't matter. They were family, and had a good time. The dad joined in later on, and we had a blast. Summer ended, and life moved on, and the next year I was happy to see them at the pool again. ___________________________________
_ The word "Dad" slowly slips away from my vocabulary. I rarely ever use the word anymore, I don't think about the word, mainly because I can't remember what it was like... having a dad. I can't remember him cheering me on at swim meets, or taking me to dance, or helping me with homework. It's just been me and mom. I wasn't surprised when my parents announced they were getting divorced. I mean I had to ask my dad to kiss my mom on the cheek just so I could fool myself. Divorce happened to a couple of my friend's parents, but their dads would just move two miles away. My dad, however, moved to Minnesota. I remember that one night, luggages at the front door, and I'd just keep asking him "Why?" My dad had just been laid off and he would always respond, because I got a great job offer there. But couldn't he have waited for another offer that was at least in California?! I just stared at the window, and watched him drive off. After he rounded the corner, I stayed there looking at the empty street, I mean he'd come back right? He wasn't going to leave my brother and me. He even said he'd come back. But he didn't. Maybe I just wasn't good enough to come back for after all. He called a couple of times & sent an occasional email every week or so, then it dropped to every two weeks, then a month, and now? Birthday calls at the very least. Before I'd worry about him being lonely and everything. I'd send him those little school projects so he could get a little sense of home. Then he got married to a woman who had a daughter, and it felt like I no longer had to look out for him. It's been 8 years and I'll admit, it's been pretty hard. But the sad thing is that if I had the chance to change the way things are right now, I wouldn't change a thing. He has a family now and I know he's happy. The only thing I would change, is me. I wish I could be and do so much more for my mom, who works so unbelievably hard while I just take her for granted. It's unfair because she deserves a 9
lot more than what she gets. And my dad? I never really talk about him anymore. He feels like a stranger that I thought I once
knew so well. But I still wonder what it would be like...to have a dad.
A PARENT'S GUIDE TO DEALING WITH DIVORCE AS A GROWTH PROCESS Every relationship has a beginning, middle and end. Even though a couple's love can be very strong during their marriage, love alone is not enough to keep their relationship healthy and ful filling. Couples who learn to deal with conflict by communicating their differences in construc tive ways can weather the "storms" that show up in every marriage. When emotional damage from these storms is too great, one or both of them may feel too resentful or hopeless to stay to gether, choosing divorce as the only option. Many divorces are traumatic, difficult and painful to experience. The family breakup usually causes upset, worry, and feelings of loss and even be trayal not only to the couple and their children, but also to others close to them, including their own parents and friends. It's important that each person involved allow themselves to deal with the issues to go through an emotional grieving process to release emotional pain (anger, fear, sadness…) in order to let of life dreams that will not materialize. Dealing with this major life transition takes time as the former couple learns to restructure their separate lives. Hopefully they will develop and maintain a friendly and even positive attitude towards each other while seeing their children and extended family members. Being aware of and learning important lessons in how to love themselves and their children unconditionally on the journey through di vorce is vital in guiding the former couple to move on successfully in their separate lives. It's im portant for the couple to continually communicate that they are divorcing each other, not their children. Parents who provide continued reassurance that the divorce was not the children's fault along with giving each other the time and space to develop and nurture continued contact with the children will add to the stability they need to grow into mature, loving adults. Here are some steps the divorcing spouses can take in the journey to heal themselves and start their new lives as a divorced/single person. 1. Meet regularly with a close friend and talk things overwhatever is on your mind. If that does not promote the deeper healing, seek a professional therapist who can help you heal your intense feelings and issues. It's important to regain more confidence in yourself again, renew your ener gy, and begin setting appropriate goals. This will help you deal with the stresses of separation and divorce. 2. Forgive yourself and your exspouse for mistakes you each made in the past, learn from them, and begin finding ways to appreciate each other and the growth you could have only experienced because of your close, intimate relationship with each other. 10
3. Schedule meetings with other people and professionals who are supporting you in the most positive ways. If possible, working with a mediator instead of separate attorneys can be less up setting and more affordable. 4. Attend a seminar or lecture that will help you parent your children through the divorce pro cess, handle your finances, or other important issues. 5. Take good care of yourself by finding time for exercise, walking regularly, and/or healthy eat ing. A good psychotherapist, couples therapist, or success coach can ease you through this diffi cult period. When you are feeling nurtured and fulfilled, you will be able to balance the pressures of working, parenting, and having your own life. 6. Be patient with yourself and your children through this new journey. Divorce is not only the end of an era, but hopefully is the beginning of a happier and better life to come! You have the opportunity to create your life the way you choose. 7. Renew your faith through religious or spiritual practices that are uplifting to you. Learn to be alone without feeling lonely. You can become your own best friend. 8. Keep a journal of your feelings, dreams and what you are passionate about. Begin using these ideas to turn your action steps into stepping stones to dance into your new life. Take your time, be gentle with yourself, and keep looking forward so you can truly enjoy yourself! Rayna Lumbard, LMFT is a dynamic Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Hypnotherapist, Professional Coach, and Psychospiritual Energy Healer. Through her successful practice, Inner Success Transformations, Rayna guides individuals, couples, and families to create loving rela tionships, successful careers, vibrant health and the life of their dreams. She is also a workshop/playshop facilitator of Law of Attraction in ACTION and the founder of The Aware ness Network. She is the author of numerous articles including "Bringing out the Best in Your Kids," and a contributing author of The Power of Miracle Thinking. Rayna can be reached at her Saratoga, California office at 4083583756, or at Rayna@InnerSuccess.com. Visit her at www.InnerSuccess.com
TEENS DEAL WITH DIVORCE By Rayna Lumbard, LMFT From disbelief to belief in myself From confusion to clarity From rejection to redemption From anger to selfempowerment From problems to creative solutions From victim to victor From blame to acceptance A new life with opportunities for success, love, happiness, and inner strength! Divorce could be a fourletter word. After all, it is a very difficult adjustment for each member of the family. It is an upsetting time in anyone's life, an especially unwanted or unplanned transition for children and teens whose healthy development is on the line. Adolescence is a stage of life al ready filled with many emotional and physical changes. Divorce creates an additional burden on growing minds and bodies. In psychosocial development according to Erik Erikson, adolescence is a particularly vulnerable stage in a person's life cycle. Its own crisis is called Identity vs. Role Confusion and usually lasts between puberty and young adulthood. This stage becomes even more difficult for adolescents who are struggling with their parents' divorce. Their reactions include anger (and underlying fear and sadness), the need for a stable home environment, and clear boundaries between themselves and their parents. Family conflict leading to divorce threatens the very security adolescents depend on to prepare them to leave home and separate from their parents. They react in two different ways; they either cannot grow up and leave home in order to take care of their parents in some way or they have to grow up too quickly to fill the void left by one of their parents. Both reactions interfere with the teen's ability to successfully develop their own sense of identity and appropriate maturation. Ei ther role becomes restrictive to the teen's development. Because there are more demands placed on teens during the separation and divorce process, peer relationships can suffer just when they are needed the most. Adolescents react to these compet ing demands in three ways: 1. Teenagers regress and appear younger in their interests, attitudes, and behavior. They become more socially isolated from peers by becoming more emotionally invested in their family, remaining more like a child. 2. Adolescents appear much older and more mature than they really are. They seem very responsible and stable, becoming a new "adult" resource for the family. 12
3. Adolescents act out their resentments through rebellious or antisocial behavior. Their conflict with parental authority is their desperate attempt to separate from their parents when they are feeling trapped. According to Keshet and Mirkin, there are three reasons for these behaviors. Adolescents feel personally responsible for the divorce and are doing everything they can to bring their parents back together. They are trying to replace the parent who left the house and lift their burdens. Adolescents, knowingly or not, are trying to protect their parents by becoming the focus of atten tion and causing problems themselves. What can be done to alleviate the individual and family dysfunction and pain caused by divorce? Timely intervention by a family therapist is the best way to hopefully prevent or at least reduce the problems adolescents experience when their parents get divorced. It's important for parents to pay attention to how their teenager is handling the situation and be available to discuss what's going on in a constructive way. Remember, they still need their car ing, concerned parents. It's important to find other adults to lean on emotionally and to handle other responsibilities to take the burden off teenagers. It's important for everyone to practice positive selftalk. Selfblame and selfrejection is common in divorce situations. How many times have you caught yourself saying, "I am such an idiot," or "If only I would have ____________." It takes selfawareness to discover what you are telling yourself over and over. If it's "I'm bad, I'm unlovable, or I don't deserve love…" that's what you will create. Practicing selfacceptance reverses selfrejection and low selfesteem. Cancel nega tive thoughts immediately and replace them with selfaffirming ones like "I'm OK, I'm a good person, and I do deserve love…" Become aware of the qualities, skills, gifts and talents you have and appreciate yourself! Accept your uniqueness and learn to receive compliments. Before, during or after a divorce is a trying time for all family members. Preventing a family cri sis, individual emotional problems and destructive acting out behaviors is worth its weight in gold. But if problems persist, it's best to get the support needed to resolve issues. This will give everyone in the family a better chance to develop healthier, happier and more successful relation ships and lives in the future.
Resources The Divorce Helpbook for Teens, By Cynthia McGregor How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce: Kids’ Advice to Kids, By Gail Kimball Teens Health Website; Dealing with Divorce http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/families/divorce.html Dealing with Divorce and Separation: A Guide for Teens http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/divorce.html
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