Shattered Family

3 Dec

Letterbalm Broken RingsDear LetterBalm: I’m 16, and my mom and dad are divorcing. I overheard a big fight between my parents. My mom accused my dad of having a girlfriend from his gym. He admitted it and said he was moving out to live with her and that he wanted to marry her. My mom is really sad. She comes home from work, makes dinner for us and cries in her room when she doesn’t think I know. She tries to help me with school stuff and makes sure my dad hangs out with me and watches my basketball games, but she and I are pretty bummed out by everything. I feel like I should help my mom, but I’m having trouble sleeping and concentrating on school. I need help but I don’t want to give her more problems. What can I do?

–Really Sad

Truly, you and your mom are in the middle of the worst kind of sadness. Even if your dad really loves his new girlfriend, he has broken faith with his family. You and your mom are in emotional chaos, and both of you need help. It’s common for children to think they must be a rock for their parents in a divorce situation or, worse, to believe that somehow their parents’ breakup was their fault. Ms. L.B. strongly urges you to sit down with your mother and let her know you recognize her pain and you need help, too. Don’t worry about adding to her problems – counseling is in order for each of you, maybe private therapy and additional help for the two of you together. If your mother is reluctant to act, talk with a favorite teacher, the parent of a friend, a relative, a trusted adult. But first, sit down with your mom. Be brave and say this to her:

Mom, I know you secretly cry when you think I’m not looking. I can understand. Dad has really knocked us around emotionally. I’m trying hard not to be angry at Dad, too. We both need help. I haven’t wanted to give you more problems, but I’m having trouble sleeping and concentrating on schoolwork. We both need serious therapy, serious stuff. Please, please get started on this right away. You need a counselor and I need one, too. We probably also should see a therapist together. The sooner we get started dealing with our pain and anger, the better. I love you, Mom, and I don’t want any more grief in our family. This can’t last forever, and we have to help ourselves.

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