Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
Q&A: Questions and Answers99950_000_006
My parents are going through a divorce. I’ve had a hard time. I feel like people at church see me differently now. What can I do to help people see me and not my parents’ mistakes?
Any time there is a major change in your life—moving, a drop in the amount of money you can spend, making new friends, coping with the loss of a loved one—you are likely to feel anxious and uneasy. When your parents divorce, you very often have to cope with many or even all of those changes at the same time. You may begin to view yourself a little differently than you did before the divorce, and you may feel that others see you differently, too.
The first thing to remember during any tough time, including a divorce, is that Heavenly Father is still your Father in Heaven, same as always. His love for you never changes no matter what your circumstances are. Ask Him for help as you adjust to a new life. If you allow it, your testimony can grow stronger during this trial.
Next, before you worry about what other people think, focus on what you’re feeling. If you have angry feelings toward one or both of your parents, work on forgiving them. Anger and bad feelings are not only detrimental to your relationship with your parents; they are bad for your spiritual progression and feelings of worth. Try to remain in contact—through visits, phone calls, or letters—with the parent that you don’t live with. Practice patience, love, and understanding with the parent you do live with. During this time in your life, everyone in your family is probably trying to figure out how to handle things, and being a loving peacemaker is the best thing you can do. Even if your parents don’t respond to your efforts, you can feel good in knowing you’ve done your best to stay close to them.
Always remember that even though the Church encourages us to work toward strong marriages and happy families, you are in no way less deserving of the blessings of the gospel. Don’t shy away from Church activities and classes that will allow you to strengthen the bonds of friendship and testimony that you need now more than ever. Do your best to let others know that you still want to be a part of things by participating and helping to plan activities when it’s appropriate. Looking for ways to serve is a great way to stay involved and also a good way to take your mind off of any sad or bad feelings you might be having.
As you do these things, the problem of others seeing you differently will probably take care of itself. After some time has passed, the people around you can’t help but see that regardless of your family situation, you are an individual to be loved for who you are. If you still feel that people view you differently, you may choose to talk with them in private about it. Or you may choose to ignore it. After all, if you work hard and pray, you can be assured that you are an accepted and worthwhile child of God. Then what other people think will probably seem a lot less important.
I feel that way sometimes, too. Just remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. Try to take one day at a time. And always remember that just because you feel that way sometimes, it doesn’t mean you should do something you’ll regret later.
Krista Chatman, 15 Duncan, Arizona
Don’t worry about how others see you. People aren’t looking down on you; they’re watching out for you. Don’t feel you have something to prove or show them. Heavenly Father loves you and knows who you are. I have found that if you don’t let your parents’ divorce get in the way of your progression, people admire you for that.
Angela Abbott, 18 Tulsa, Oklahoma
When my parents divorced, the people at church were my strength. They don’t see you differently because of a problem between your parents. The people in your ward know you’re a child of God. If you remember that, too, you’ll feel a lot better.
I’ve gone through this experience, so I talked to my friends about how I felt. They understood. I also bore my testimony and let people know that I was still the same person with the same beliefs.
Amanda Mangum, 12 Blackfoot, Idaho
My parents are divorced, and it has been a difficult thing for me to get over. However, I have found that losing myself in the service of others has helped me find happiness. If you want people to see you for who you are, you have to show them.
Derick Soto, 15 Sparks, Nevada
The Lord loves you and knows what a special person you are. Don’t think of the world as cruel or unfeeling. If you look, you will find those people who will love and accept you for the person you are. Focus on healing your thoughts and feelings instead of worrying about what other people think of you.
Remember that as you are struggling with your parents’ divorce, your friends are struggling to know how to help you. They may not know how to approach you. Be yourself and give your friends time to adjust.
Sister Vaneta A. Moea’i, 22 Philippines Naga Mission
I had a friend whose parents were getting a divorce. I wanted to let her know I would be there for her if she ever wanted to talk. It was uncomfortable for me because I didn’t want to offend her by bringing it up. It really helped a lot when she talked about it because then I knew she felt okay talking about that subject.
Jessica Dalling, 13 Sugar City, Idaho
If you keep doing what is right, eventually people will realize who you are and the good choices you are making. Remember that your parents’ divorce isn’t your fault, and that Heavenly Father is always there to comfort you and help you.
Kelsey Fox, 16 Bellevue, Washington