Modern Families

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Modern Families

One in every five adults in the United States gets divorced. If divorce becomes a reality in your family, you will all need to adapt to a new type of family unit.

For children

You might face a range of issues when you become part of a new step-family or family unit. These might include divided loyalties, making you feel like you have to choose between two different families. You may also have to adjust to your parents' new partners and/or families.

A new family doesn’t mean you reject or forget your experiences with your original family. There are things you can do to make the transition smoother.

  • Accept the challenge. It’s important not to give up on it before it starts or make any judgments about the new people in your life.
  • Take one day at a time. It can take months and sometimes even years for things to settle down.
  • Having your own space. If it is possible, have your own space at both houses, which might include your toiletries, favorite music, and clothes.
  • Make time for yourself. It’s important to take time out to do things for yourself and stick to other routine
  • Speak to other family members. They could be feeling the same way. Sharing with others how you are feeling about everything can be helpful because it can lead to decisions on what you want to happen. It’s important to speak up earlier, rather than later!
  • Speak to someone outside the situation. You might also find it helpful to talk to someone who’s not directly involved, such as a friend, teacher or counselor.

Positives. Even though it might not feel like it at the beginning, being a part of a step-family can be a positive experience and might include a bigger family, a bigger support network, and more flexibility.

For parents

If you’re going through a divorce, you’re dealing with all kinds of challenges. Everything from your daily routine to the future life you had envisioned with your spouse and children has now changed. You’ll have to get used to different goals for yourself – and that may take some time. Financial and custody issues can be very stressful. Be sure to talk with someone about your concerns – whether it’s an attorney, family member, friend or counselor. Remember, these are grown up issues, so avoid talking about them with your children. They can’t offer you assistance, and it will only confuse them. It may even distress them. Once you get some third-party advice, you may be able to approach your divorce based more on facts than emotion. This is a critical strategy for working with an ex-spouse so that your children come through the divorce process with as little trauma as possible. 

Acknowledgement: Portions of this fact sheet were originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times.

Many articles in this section were adapted from, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth