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Dealing with divorce as a teenager/student

Community Member


I don't know if anyone will see this but I wanted advice, or at least someone to talk to. A few months ago (3 or 4?) my parents told me they were getting a divorce, I am 17 years old and still live with them and my younger sister. It was pretty much a shock to me, whether through my own willful ignorance or just not noticing how they had grown distant from each other. I've felt just so, so bad ever since and I either want to cry or sleep all the time. This year is my last in high school and I just want to focus on my studies but I can't even motivate myself to get up before 1pm and the holidays will end soon. I started to fall behind in schoolwork and now I've got exams which actually count to my stupid ATAR to worry about. I just want to do well but if last term is anything to go by, I feel like I'll just get home every day after school and waste time apathetically on my phone or cry instead of actually working. I also found it really difficult to concentrate on work in class, just in general. Academics are basically the only thing I can do, and the family issues are affecting that so much. I have no motivation to do any of the things I thought I loved doing - drawing, writing, even lazy things like watching TV seem like they take too much effort.

I'm just counting the days until the year ends and I can leave this horrible house. My mum is like "oh if you move to go to uni maybe I'll move with you" which makes me just want to go somewhere so remote she'd never follow me, maybe out of spite lol. I just want to be anywhere else, or just in the future with at least some idea if what I want to do. I don't know, whenever I look up stuff about divorce online it's always from the adults' point of view and I never hear how people my age cope with it. I'm really scared and sad and I just want to go away.

4 Replies 4

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello AnnaPixel,

I'm so sorry to hear about your parents wanting to get a divorce. My parents are also divorced now and it is always very hard to deal with. Now, more than ever, but it seems there's never a good time.

It sounds like you're really struggling to understand why or what it really means in the end and, like you say, there's a lot of stuff online from the adult's perspective.

From the children's perspective, it's very normal to be spiteful and to be very upset and distracted. This is a major upheaval to your life as you've known it for 17 years. And for them to choose now, in your final year, can seem really inconsiderate.

For me, there was a lot to gain from just talking to my friends. That can help you feel understood by someone your age, with your perspective.

There was also a lot to gain from understanding my parents' view because, without that, I'd never be able to accept that they did the right thing.

So I'm really glad to see that you've come here to talk because right now, you need to keep talking to people both your age, and to your parents. If you are angry enough and want to move so remote out of spite, then it is probably a good thing to express, as calmly as you can, that you feel really hurt by this news and want to understand why.

It's just important to remember that it is not in any way your fault. It's also not their fault that they're breaking up, but they are responsible for being upfront and honest with you.

Hope to hear from you again. It sounds like a really really hard time.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
Hi Anna, divorce is a really hard thing to go through and I can't even begin to imagine how you're feeling. Have you voiced your concerns to your parents about how you're feeling? What have they said about you sleeping in and feeling overwhelmed? If you don't feel like you can talk to them, is there anyone else you could talk to? I know you can receive a lot of support during the HSC if you're experiencing anxiety - you can speak to your doctor about organising a plan. I remember a lot of my friends had extra time in exams or received a separate room. Even if you really struggle through the HSC you can still get to where you need to be - I say that as someone who is now on their second degree. I didn't get the greatest mark in the HSC, but am now studying to become a psychologist. I promise you'll get through this.

Community Member

Hi AnnaPixel,

I am so sorry to hear you are going through this now.

I’m not the same age as you, I’m 32 now but can relate. When I was 15 years old my dad came to my sister and I and said that him and Mum don’t love each other anymore. That is one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life. My childhood had then had spun out of control and I was not talking to anybody about the feelings I was having.

Anyway my story isn’t important, what’s so amazing and important is that you are reaching out! You have started the conversation!

As James (above) has said, it’s not your fault or theirs.

While there is still time on holidays - take some time out for yourself. Go on walks, go to the movies - really spend some time to reflect and find that happy place again (even amongst all the sadness).

Im not going to say it’s going to be easy - it’s not. But keep welcoming family and friends that are open to talk. Keep talking.

You already have so much faith in yourself - wanting to do well and finish - hold on to that.

I am sorry for what has happened. I am older than your parents but I have known people divorce & in some cases the children have been OK particularly when they have felt supported & given the opportunity to understand what is happening & why. In other cases I have seen children go through what you are going through & it can have devastating consequences.

My advice is to ring a helpline (Beyond blue have helplines) explain briefly what is happening and ask for recommendations to access counselling &/or support in your area. You need someone who understands how to help people like you to deal with this trauma. This should include helping you find ways to communicate with your parents so you can understand what is happening for them. How to deal with any conflicts between your relationship with both parents (you don't need to be caught between them) & most importantly how to look after yourself so you can cope & carry on your life as normally as possible. There should be support available at school to assist & special consideration can be made if required.

Ring as soon as you can because the sooner you get help the sooner you can get your life back to a more normal path & the less damage is done. Remember you are not alone. Many teenagers have experienced this & it is not your fault. There are people out there with the training & expertise to help.