Coping with a Family Break-up in Relationships

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Sometimes things don't work out for families and they break apart.

It can seem like a total disaster at the time, but it could well be best for you in the long run.

Is it my fault they're splitting up?


Lots of people think this during family break-ups but the truth is it's never your fault.

They didn't start their relationship because of you - you might not even have been born - so how can it be your fault if they can't make it work?

How should I feel about this?

It's normal to feel angry, upset, down, anxious, worried, or tearful.

You might not know how you feel for a while - 'numb' is normal too.

If things have been really rough at home for a long time or something bad happened between you, it's natural enough to feel relieved or happy that things are moving on.

Whichever way it is for you, family break-ups are stressful, so it's important you get plenty of support.

It can also help loads if you talk about your feelings.

What will happen?

This depends on the how they break up.

Some parents manage to come to an agreement between themselves, others need to go a divorce court to sort things out.

You'll probably end up living with one of them most of the time but, hopefully, you'll still be able to spend lots of time with the other.

Either way, you have the right to have your wishes taken into account, including which parent you want to live with.

The only exception to this is if a court is aware you've been abused or neglected or could be in danger from a family member.

A court will only let you live with someone if they're sure you'll be safe and properly looked after.

How can I keep on good terms with both of them?

This can be hard - especially if they're speaking to you, but not each other.

To keep things running as smoothly as possible:

  • try not to take sides or dish out blame - it only makes things more awkward
  • don't blab one parent's secret stuff to the other - you'll only lose someone's trust
  • don't end up being a go-between or try to do the talking for them - you have enough to cope with.

How can I get through this?

To help make sure you can cope more easily:

  • tell both of them how you feel about what's going on
  • speak up if you're not happy about any plans that involve you
  • talk about how much you want to see each of them
  • ask them to be polite and not to argue in front of you
  • tell your school what's happening - they can help support you to keep up with schoolwork.

It's also important to talk about how you feel.

Get as much support as you can from other family members and friends.

Make sure you're looking after yourself too - eat wellsleep well and try to get some physical activity