Dealing with Split Households


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Divorce can be a difficult time for children and teens to go through. One in two children in America live in a house of divorce.

     With divorce comes split households, and this can be a challenge for both the parents and children. Parents have to figure out how to split time between each household and how to plan that schedule to make it easiest for the child(ren). Sometimes, the judge makes this decision; other times, it is left up to the families. 

     Balancing time, money and energy can be overwhelming for kids.

     Not every kid deals with divorce in the same way, but there are a few stereotypes that a lot of them fall under.

 The Parent Pleaser:

     This kid feels like they need to make everyone happy. They try so hard to get equal time with every side of the family to be fair, but this can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone to undertake, let alone a kid.  By being a so-called “parent pleaser”, you can lose what makes you happy, by only doing things that will make others happy. This can affect your mental health.

The Obstinate Teen:

     This stereotype just doesn’t want to deal with anybody. They are the opposite of The Parent Pleaser. They don’t feel it’s their responsibility to keep up a relationship with their parents and they don’t try. Sometimes, this can be very self destructive because they are secluding themselves from their real situations and not facing problems that they should. These teens have a harder time accepting that they no longer have a “perfect” family, so as a coping mechanism, they retreat into themselves. 

The Forced Visitor:

     Have you ever had to go to someone’s house that you didn’t want to? Or spend time with someone that you just don’t get along with? This is what The Forced Visitor has to go through. It’s especially rough around the holidays when they have to attend different events with the parent with whom they don’t particularly get along.

     For example, let’s say you don’t get along with your dad, but the court is making you visit with him for the holidays. It can be an uncomfortable and upsetting situation, but you have to look on the bright side. Maybe you could grow a better bond with your dad by spending more time with him. Or maybe you’ll learn that you two will never get along, and that’s okay. It can help you get an understanding of your relationship with your dad. Just because it might be a situation you don’t really want to be in, you can always think more positively so that the experience isn’t as awful. 

The Chaotic Creator:

     This teen wants to make the parents feel the same hurt that they are feeling. They were the ones affected a lot by the divorce, and they respond by hurting their families as revenge. This teen is very angry about their circumstances and they project that anger, not always in the best way. 

     Some advice if you belong to this stereotype, try to talk to your parents about how you feel. It can take a weight off your shoulders for them to know that you’re hurting too. By opening up to them, you can find a better way to deal with the divorce with their help. And you can grow closer together because of it.

The Step Hater:

     The Step Hater does not like their step-family. It could be because they are too stubborn to accept that their parents will never be together again or because their step-families really are bad. Some people feel like their parents give their step-families more attention than their own child. This can be a hard thing to accept, so they lash out at their step-family. 

     For example, your mom is remarried and you now have a step-dad and two step-siblings. Now your mom gives her new family more attention and love then you feel she gives you. Try to talk to her about how you feel. Maybe she didn’t notice that she made you feel this way. Talking things out can always help, whether the response is positive or negative, at least you’ll know how the other person feels. 

The Step Lover:

     This is the total opposite of The Step Hater. This child has absolutely no problem with their step-parent or step-siblings. They enjoy having a larger family and have grown a bond with the new additions. It can be hard to accept that your parents won’t get back together, especially when you add in a step-parent/family. It makes the situation feel more real because your parents have already moved on. When a child can accept that and learn to make a positive relationship with the new family members, it can create a healthy environment in which all family members can flourish.