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Parents splitting up


When parents have problems they can’t solve, they may decide to separate. 

If your parents have decided not to live together anymore, or to get a divorce, there are some important things you need to know:

  • You’re not the reason for the break-up – Kids don’t cause separation or divorce. So remember, if your parents have broken up, or are breaking up, it’s not your fault, and it’s not something that you can fix.
  • You’re not alone – Lots of kids get through their parents splitting up every year, and you will too.
  • Parents divorce each other, not their children – They will always be your parents. Your family might be changing, but they’re still your family.

Dealing with the changes

When parents split up, there can be lots of things that change:

  • you might have to move to a new house
  • you may have to divide your time between two homes
  • you may have to change schools
  • the way things run at home can change
  • one parent may have to move a long way away and you might not spend much time with them anymore. If this is what’s happening for you, maybe you could think about ways you can stay in touch using technology or writing letters and cards
  • you may stop seeing one, or even both of their parents. If this is the case for you, think about who can help you stay in touch with your parents, and what can help you when you are missing them 

Dealing with your feelings

Kids usually have lots of different feelings when their parents split. You might feel sad, hurt, angry, helpless, worried, let down or even happy and relieved –  you might feel all of this at once, or different feelings at different times. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. Whatever is going on for you, your feelings are important and it’s important to talk about them. 

Talk to someone you trust

It’s good to ask mum and dad questions about things you don’t understand, and to let them know how you’re feeling. If you're feeling really angry and hurt, that’s totally normal – it’s okay to feel angry at your parents and love them at the same time. 

Sometimes mums and/or dads are struggling too and may not be able to be there for you just yet. If it’s too hard talking to mum and dad right now, it’s important to find someone you can talk to and who can support you. This could be your grandparents, aunty or uncle, or give us a call at 0800 What’s Up.

Here are some ideas that have helped other kids:

  • talk with friends and other kids whose parents have also split up. Sharing your stories with someone else who has been through it too can help you feel less alone
  • if you’re worried about a parent who is sad, think of ways to show them you love them – and you can tell them too!
  • draw pictures or write about how you feel
  • spend time with brothers, sisters, cousins, and/or friends – because it is OK to laugh and have fun too     
  • spend time with pets
  • have some quiet time and read your favourite books
  • go for a bike ride, run, play, get outside and exercise
  • if you’re missing a parent or other family members, you could give them a call in private or ask for some special time alone with them