Is it my fault?
No. It is never, ever your fault.
During the splitting up process, many young people feel as if they are responsible for the situation - however, they never are.
It is most likely that one, or both of your parents are doing this to be happy. It may not feel like it at first, but in the long run you may start to see your parents feel happier. This may also make you feel happier. You might not realise it, but quite possibly one, or both of your parents have been unhappy for a long time and the chances are you have probably picked up on some of those feelings of anxiety, anger, frustration, sadness and unhappiness without realising it.
Will they still love me?
Of course your parents will still love you. They might feel disappointed with themselves or that they have let you down, but as a parent they will never stop caring about you. They will always be your parent no matter what. They will never stop loving you.
How do I deal with my emotions?
We think that talking about things is the best way to deal with emotions.
There are always people who you can to talk to, such as family members, friends or a teacher at your school. There are also professionals that you can talk to, such as ChildLine, your school counsellor, or your GP.
For more information on organisations who can offer support nationally and activities to help you deal with your emotions, please visit our Support Page.
Remember - you can always make a situation better. Talking about the
problem is most likely your best solution.
Who can I talk to?
If you feel affected by what is happening at home, make sure you tell someone - whether it is one or both of your parents, a friend, a friend's parent, a teacher or someone in your school. You can also get help from the professional organisations listed on our Support Page.
You may also find it helpful to speak to someone in your wider family; aunties, uncles, grandparents, and cousins can all be very understanding and supportive.
Is there a friend you could talk to? Don't feel like you're burdening your friends, as sharing worries with other people often makes your worries shrink. Friends can offer good tips and advice too.
If there is violence or abuse of any sort in your home, do not get involved as you may get hurt. If you are experiencing domestic violence, please tell someone, call ChildLine or seek support from a specialist organisation like the The Hideout.
Who am I going to live with?
If your parents spilt up when you were young, it is likely that this decision was made for you. However, as you get older, you may be able to have a say as to where you would like to live. This can be scary, and you may be worried about offending one of your parents or another family member. It is important to remember that it is ok to voice how you feel about the situation. Whilst there may be feelings of upset or anger in your family - this is not your fault. Ultimately, the final decision of where you will live rests
with your parents, and ideally they will take your feelings and wishes into consideration when making this decision.
Sometimes living with one parent all the time can be very intense and so it can help to have time apart from each other. Try not to feel guilty when spending time with one parent and not the other. You have every right to stay at either parent’s home whenever you want to. In fact, spending time with both parents individually can make you appreciate the positive things that you might not notice when you live with just one parent all the time.
How do I deal with it affecting me at school?
It can be hard to concentrate on things when you are worried about your parents. If you can, try to focus on your school work as it may take your mind off the worry and stress. If you feel nervous or in need of a break, mention it to your teacher and tell your parents if you are struggling at school. You will not be judged for this. You are not in this alone.
Are there any positives?
There are always positives to every situation - more than you may think. You have the chance to meet new people and possibly new family members. You can also see one parent as a break from the other which may relieve stress and make you feel better within yourself. Although you might not want your family to break up, there are a lot of advantages - including family days out, double Christmases and birthdays, extra holidays and more opportunities.
What are the negatives?
Sometimes your parents' separation might mean that one or both of your parents are upset, angry or depressed. Remember - it is not your responsibility to make your parents feel happy. All you can do is be alongside them as you all work through this.
Am I responsible for making arrangements between parents?
You are not at all responsible for making arrangements. Your parents should discuss with you, and with each other, which parent you will stay with and when. If you find you are stuck in the middle and are having to pass messages between both of your parents - this isn't fair. Speak to someone you trust - they may be able to see if there is a way for your parents to communicate better with each other. Remember - you are not the messenger.
How can I control what happens?
Having direct contact with both parents will help you control what happens, however you don't have any control over whether they decide to be friends or whether they stay in contact with each other. Accepting this may take time, but it is important to remember that there are some things which are beyond our control.
Will this affect my future?
It will only affect your future if you let it. Bottling up your feelings may make things a lot harder in the future, as nobody will know how you feel about certain situations. Some young people worry about family gatherings such as weddings or birthdays - if you can, explain to someone how you feel and don't push yourself to go to events like this if you do not feel comfortable doing so.
What happens if one of my parents doesn't want to see me?
There may be many reasons why a parent is unable or unwilling to see you. If this is something which is upsetting you, then you may find it useful to talk to a support worker at your school or someone confidential at ChildLine. Remember - family breakups can be a very complicated and emotional time for everyone involved. It can be very painful, but it is not your fault if a parent is absent from your life.
Who can help me?
There are a lot of people and organisations out there that can help, whether you are looking for support and advice, wanting to access mediation or go through the courts. A good first step is to talk to someone at your school, a family member, or your friends. There are also many organisations specifically designed to help young people like you and I in these situations, such as CAFCASS, National Family Mediation, Children's Legal Centre and The Site. For more information on help that is available to you, please visit our Support Page.
If you live in Oxfordshire, then you may like to attend one-to-one sessions with a support worker through Oxfordshire Family Mediation's Children's Voice service. For young people across the UK, Youth Net's StepFinder website and app lets you find support available in your local area.
Will I have to go to court?
No one can force you to go to court, although your parents may have to attend by law. If you feel comfortable doing so, you do have the choice to attend the court hearing and there are organisations such as CAFCASS which are designed to support you through this process.
Do I have to attend mediation?
Neither you nor your parents have to attend mediation as it is a voluntary process. If your parents do choose to go through mediation, then the mediator may give them the option for you to take part. This would involve meeting with the mediator on a one-to-one basis, in a confidential space so that they can hear things from your perspective. They won’t pass on any information to your parents unless you want them to and you don’t have to take part if you don’t want to. Although it may seem scary, family mediation can be a good way to help your parents decide what's best for your family. It can also help protect you from being too involved in your parents’ relationship. For more information, or to find a mediation service near you, contact National Family Mediation.
I feel scared. What should I do?
Everyone is likely to feel scared at certain times, but with the right help and advice you will feel more supported and better able to cope. If you do feel scared, make sure you talk to the right people. Remember - there are a lots of people and organisations who are there for you. For more information, go to our Support Page.
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