Child feeling lonely and abandoned after parents' divorce

Hi, I’m a 19-year-old guy whose parents got divorced nearly a year ago. They’re still struggling to come to agreements, so it’s still not official and there’s a lot of drama, even though they live separated from each other. I live with my dad and see my mum several times a week.

Usually I can cope with the whole situation. However, sometimes I suddenly feel very abandoned and lonely. This usually, but not always, when the divorce comes up as a topic of conversation. Maybe they need my opinion on what I want or expect, or they just want to know what I feel like. After a few hours I often start feeling alone and abandoned, even though I know very well that’s not the case. I know my parents, older sister and friends are there for me whenever I need them, but I know it on a logical level.

On an emotional level, I feel like those people are in another room, and I’m in another room as well, completely by myself, without a way to get through that wall and reach those people. After a few hours this feeling subsides, usually when I go to sleep or have a powerful distraction like going to train.

The obvious answer is talking to my parents about this, but it’s so obvious I could come up with it myself. Could anybody please give me other advice, or own experiences and tell me this is alright and I will be fine?

Javier, I was 20 when my parents divorced. I had known, on some level, for many years that their marriage was not a good one. It was really not a surprise when they announced they were splitting up.I didn’t live at home then–I was in another town, going to college, working full-time. I was completely on my own. And yet the divorce hit me like a sucker punch. I remember crying at the most inappropriate times. eople couldn’t understand it. On the surface, it had been coming for years, and I was somewhat removed from the situation. But it still hurt like hell.You are grieving. Let yourself grieve. Do not tell yourself you need to get over it. You are sad and angry, feeling abandoned. That is NORMAL. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Talking to your parents will help, yes. But for me, my best friend was TIME. It is like someone died…you don’t snap out of it. Give yourself the gift of time.

You’re in a difficult position. As an adult still living with your parents you must navigate the emotional turmoil carefully. But the good news is you’re an adult and can start to erect boundaries so that you can preserve your relationship with both parents. Make sure they both know you love and care for them but do not want to pick sides and that it makes you feel bad when they try and put you in the middle. Refuse to allow them to do that but instead keep reminding them that the divorce is their personal journey and that you will support each of them and continue to love them but you simply cannot get involved in the details of their divorce.In the meantime you plan to spend more time with friends and school and work (I’m hoping you’re invested in both at your age). Put your focus on building you life apart from your parents. Soon you’ll be living on your own and will need to honor them by becoming the man they brought you up to be. While divorce is never easy, you have the advantage of age and can love and respect both your parents individually without it clouding your vision and getting in the way of your young adult life. Their divorce is not your problem to fix.

Javier, I’m glad you reached out. What you’re going through is very difficult. You’re going to be just fine.One of the rules of divorce is that the kids are kept out of whatever’s going on between the two who are getting divorced. Your folks either haven’t realized that you’re still their boy or weren’t told the rule. Your parents are like a lot of folks who have adult children - treating them like an adult, but forgetting that they’re their kids. It happens. You’re going to have to be the adult they believe you are and talk to them - or send them an e mail. I know that it’s not going to be easy. I believe that you can do it. Start off by telling them that you love both of them and respect them, that you understand that this is a really difficult time for them. Tell them that it’s a difficult time for you, too. Tell them that your world has been rocked because of their decision to divorce, too. Until you settle into the new reality that is taking shape, you cannot be their friend because you’re their son. Tell them how you feel - just like you told us. Remind them that you still have two parents, even though they’ve decided not to be married to each other, and that you want to have good relationships with both of them. Reassure them that you love them.When you talk/write to Mom, don’t mention Dad, and vice versa. If one of them brings up the other parent, gently remind them that this is a conversation about the two of you. Having the conversation is less scary than thinking about having the conversation. It’s okay to have notes, or to rewrite the e mail, and it’s not a bad idea at all to have a friend who knows what’s been going on help you practice what you want to say or read (peer edit) your e mail(s) before you send them. We’re here for you.