Don’t be surprised if the news that your parents are splitting up hits you harder than you expect. They are your mum and dad and no matter how old you are, it won’t be easy for you to watch them go their separate ways. Teenagers can find it particularly hard to cope with the emotional impact of parental separation, particularly when they have so much else going on with friends, school and exams.
Allow yourself time to adjust
The anger you’re feeling comes from a sense of being let down and an overwhelming feeling of loss. You’ll miss your mum and dad being together and the stability that this brings. Getting used to the idea that your parents are separating is a form of grief and you will need time to adjust.
Be cautious about apportioning blame
You might blame one of your parents for causing the split and there may appear to be good reason, particularly if one of them has had an affair. Bear in mind that relationships rarely break down because of one thing and are usually the result of many different issues building up over time. Even if you feel justified in passing judgement, resentment can cause lasting damage to your own relationship with your mum and dad.
Don’t blame yourself either
It doesn’t matter how difficult or argumentative you’re been recently, this is not the reason your folks are splitting. The issues are theirs and theirs alone. Family life is full of ups and downs and even if you think you’ve been adding to the problems in the house, you have not caused this to happen.
It’s normal to worry about whether you’ll be able to maintain a relationship with both your parents, particularly if one is moving to a new area. Tell your parents how you’re feeling and make a plan to stay in touch with WhatsApp or Facetime calls if it isn’t going to be possible to meet up regularly.
Talk to your friends
It will be easier to cope if your close friends know what you’re going through. At the very least it will help them understand why you’re feeling a bit low or don’t want to invite them round to your house at the moment. You will appreciate their support too.
Don’t take sides
Whatever age you are when your parents break up, be careful not to take sides. This applies even if you have left home and have a family of your own. It isn’t unusual for parents to use their children to communicate between them, taking messages from one to the other. It is not your job to do this for them and they need to work things out between themselves without involving you.
However much you miss the way things were, your parents have made the decision to separate because they were unhappy. Living apart might seem drastic but hopefully it will bring them greater contentment in the long term. In the meantime, you should remain focused on your own life and ambitions whilst they work out a new way forward for themselves.
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Emma Doughty is family lawyer who provides straightforward, easy to understand advice. She is passionate about helping people and using her expertise to achieve the best outcome possible. She has been described by her clients as “tremendous and incredibly supportive”.
Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing email@example.com.