Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Many teens really believe that their parents will get back together. They try very hard to make it happen by being on their best behaviour.

Sometimes this is a way of denying what’s really happening in order to protect yourself from the painful reality.

Chances are your parents reached this point only after trying very hard to save their relationship, and their decision to split up is final.

It's hard, but it's probably better for you to begin to accept the situation as it really is.  It’s best to get used to the changes you’re facing in order to get on with your life.

Q & R

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:
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:
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:
I really feel like I need some help in dealing with this. Who should I ask?
A:

There are lots of people around you who can help. Tell your parents, teacher, school counsellor, family doctor or another adult you trust. If they can't help you themselves, they should be able to help you find someone who can.

If you aren't getting the help you think you need, keep asking until you get it.

Q:
Do I have to take sides, or choose one parent over the other?
A:

No, you don't. You have the right to love and be loved by both parents.

If you’re feeling pressured to take sides and feel caught in the middle of your parents' problems, tell them. They might be so caught up in their own problems that they don't even know they are doing it, and once they do, they might stop.