Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Anxiety is a strong, uncomfortable feeling of fear or dread. It’s a normal emotional response to danger or uncertainty.

Changes bring uncertainty and this can make you feel anxious. It’s normal to feel anxious when your parents split up because there might be so many unknowns — like what’s going to happen, where you’re going to live, how you’ll cope with all the changes, and so on.

You might also feel like you’re caught in the middle—that you have to take sides or choose between one parent and the other—and that could make you feel anxious.

Also, you might be worried about your relationships in the future. You might think that because your parents have split-up, the same thing will happen to you. But you can learn from your parents' mistakes. What happens in your own relationships will be up to you, not your parents!

If the anxiety is lasting a long time or is making it hard for you to do the things you normally do, get help.

Q & R

Q:
Can I do anything to get my parents back together?
A:

Most parents split up only after trying very hard to save their relationship. Their decision to split-up is usually final.

Some teens hope and believe that if they try to be on their very best behaviour, their parents will get back together. However, this plan isn't likely to work, since their parents' decision to split up had nothing to do with them.

Apart from suggesting that your parents see a marriage counsellor if they haven't already done so, the best thing that you can do is to begin to accept the situation so that you can get on with your life.

Q:
I'm feeling guilty about my parents splitting up. Was there something I did to cause it?
A:

It's very common for teens to believe that they have somehow caused their parents to split up. But you’re not the reason for your parents splitting up. Parents split up because of problems in their relationship.

It's not your fault!

Q:
My parents never married. Do they have to go through the same process that married parents do when they split up?
A:

Common-law parents — parents who chose to live together without getting married — don't get a divorce because there is no marriage to end. But they do need to decide what will happen to their children and how they’ll divide their property.

Q:
I'm feeling really upset and confused about my parents' splitting up. Is this normal?
A:

Your parents’ splitting up might be the hardest thing you've ever had to deal with. So it's natural — and entirely normal — to experience some intense emotions.

You will feel better over time. There are lots of ways to help yourself feel better, and there are people who can help you if you need it.

Q:
If my parents divorce, will the same thing happen to me?
A:

Many teens whose parents split up feel anxious about their own relationships in the future. But just because your parents split up doesn't mean the same thing will happen to you. You can learn from their mistakes. What happens in your relationships will be up to you, not your parents!