When Your Parents Split Up

Sometimes mum or dad, or both of them, decide that they would rather not live together anymore.

They may choose to live apart for a while or they may choose to stay apart forever. If they are legally married they may choose to divorce. If they are in a ‘de-facto’ relationship they may have a legal separation. A ‘de-facto’ relationship is when two adults choose to live together without being married.

When parents end their relationship, it is hurtful and confusing to everyone: parents, relatives, friends and especially to your sisters or brothers and you.

Parents are human and they are hurting too. So, this could be a stressful time for all of you. If your parents separate, you might feel:

sad – because of all the things you used to do that have to change. It is normal, it can take a long time for you to stop feeling sad sometimes, even if you feel happy at other times.
scared – because you don’t know what is going to happen to them and you.
angry – with one or both of your parents for splitting up. It is hard for children to really understand what has happened.
guilty – as if it was somehow your fault. It is not – but all parents argue about children sometimes, so children can feel as if they are to blame.
confused – about what is happening.
lonely – because mum and dad seem to be too involved with their own problems to spend time with you.
worried – about one or both of your parents, especially if one of them is alone. Even if a parent seems very sad or upset, it is best for you and your parents if you have faith that they will be able to sort it out in time.

You cannot do anything about their separation or divorce. This is an adult decision and no matter how good or how bad you are, you cannot get them back together again, just as you had nothing to do with their decision to split up.

Ask your parents if you are worried about things, they can help you to sort out your worries and deal with them. Mum or dad may be too upset to answer all your questions at once, so try to be a bit patient if you can.

When parents separate it is very upsetting for everyone. If you are worried, talk to someone who can help you.

Your life will be different, after the separation. It can take a long time to feel better if your parents are splitting up.

Sometimes one parent will feel very upset and will want to ask lots of questions about the other. If you start to feel like spy then it is time to say how you are feeling. You can say that you do not want to carry messages or information between your parents.

Remember that your parents have divorced each other, they have not divorced you. Parents are parents forever.