Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Why It's Happening

Sometimes parents separate when they have been fighting and unhappy for a long time. And sometimes it seems to happen suddenly, when nothing appeared to be wrong, and it's really hard to understand why they have decided to separate.

There are many reasons why parents decide to separate — as many reasons as there are couples. With each couple, there might be one main reason, or many reasons.

In any case, everyone has their own reasons. And whatever the reasons, it's never an easy decision. Parents usually try very hard to solve their problems before they decide to separate.

Here are some common reasons why parents separate or divorce:

  • They grew apart — Maybe they were both very busy and rarely saw each other, or a job or interest took them in a different direction, but one or both of them changed. The strong attraction they felt when they were first together was lost, or maybe they just can't agree on anything anymore. Sometimes parents don't see or acknowledge problems in their relationship until it's too late.
  • Another relationship — If a parent falls in love with someone else, he or she might want to end their current relationship in order to be with that other person. Or the other parent might feel so betrayed that it is impossible to continue with the relationship.
  • Hard times — Sometimes a relationship breaks down under the strain of problems like a severe illness in the family, a parent losing a job, or a lack of money. If there were already problems in the relationship, hard times can be the last straw.
  • Alcoholism, drug abuse, or violence — Addiction to alcohol or drugs (or even to other things like gambling), as well as violent behaviour, can cause problems in a relationship and can ultimately end it.

You might have experienced some of the same things in friendships and relationships of your own.

If you're not sure what your parents' reasons are for separating, you can always ask.

Your parents might be relieved that you have asked, and give you a direct answer. On the other hand, they might want to keep their privacy. Or they might not be able to give you a clear answer, because they're not all that clear about it themselves.

The worst thing that could happen when you ask your parents why they are separating is that they tell you things you don't want or need to know. For example, one parent could say really hurtful things about the other parent. If that happens, tell the parent that it hurts you to hear this, and ask him or her to stop.

No matter what kind of answer your parents give you, the most important thing to know is that you are not the reason for your parents separating. It's not your fault!

Parents separate because of problems in their relationship. They don't separate because of their kids.

Your parents are still your parents. They still love you, even if they don't love each other anymore.

Q & A

Q:
My parents are splitting up. Why?
A:

There are many reasons why parents decide to separate. And with each couple, there might be one main reason, or a whole pile of reasons.

Parents usually try very hard to solve their problems before they take action. If you're not sure what your parents' reasons are for separating, you can always ask.

Q:
Will I be able to spend time with both parents?
A:

In the vast majority of cases, children get to spend time with both parents. How much time you spend with each parent, and exactly how that will work, depends on your custody and access arrangements.

Q:
I'm feeling guilty. Was there something I did to cause it?
A:

You are not the reason for your parents' separation. Parents separate because of problems in their relationship.

It's not your fault!