Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Some teens feel embarrassed when their parents split up.

They might be embarrassed because their feelings are so strong, like it's not "cool" to be upset. But the feelings are natural, and the best thing to do is to accept them and do what you can to feel better.

Teens might also be worried about what other people will think. But splitting-up are very common these days. In Canada, between 25% and 33% of marriages end in divorce. That means many people have been through it themselves or know someone who has.

See Breaking the News for some tips on telling your friends.

Q & R

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!

Q:
I have so many questions about why this has happened and what is’s going to happen in the future. How much can I ask my parents?
A:

If there are things you need to know, ask.

You have a right to ask questions about what’s going to happen and why. Although you need to respect your parents' right to privacy, they have a responsibility to answer your questions as best they can about things that directly affect you.

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:
What will my friends say when they find out about my parents splitting up?
A:

Lots of teens worry about breaking the news to their friends. Some feel embarrassed about what is happening.

Parents splitting-up are very common these days. In Canada, between a quarter and a third of marriages end in divorce. That means that many people have been through it themselves, and most probably know someone who has.

Good friends will be glad you've told them. They'll know that you're still you, even though your family is changing.

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.