When parents separate, it changes a lot of things for their children. Who will have custody of the children? When will they stay with one parent or the other? Will one of the parents keep the current house or apartment? How will the furniture and other things be divided between the parents? Although the separation is decided on by adults, it has a big impact on your life too. So you have a right to talk about what you’re thinking and feeling and to be listened to.
Feeling guilty about their separation
A breakup, separation, or divorce can be hard on the children. Remember that you’re not responsible for the situation. Your parents’ marital problems concern them alone. They’re adults, and it’s their relationship with each other that is ending, not the fact that they’re parents. If all this is taking up too much space in your mind, tell someone about your worries: your parents, your siblings, another adult, or Tel-jeunes.
Even though your parents may be in conflict, you don’t have to choose one over the other! Your parents play an important role in your life. Try to keep a good relationship with both parents. Tell both of them about what you’re afraid of and what you feel about their separation. Don’t let one parent use you as a weapon against the other one, for example with emotional blackmail or competitiveness. If that happens, set limits and tell your parents what you’re feeling.
How getting on with a stepparent
It’s not always easy when a stepparent arrives on the scene… Despite everything, don’t immediately decide that he/she’s an enemy. Tell yourself that he/she is also working hard to adapt and define his/her role with you and your relationship. To make things easier, take an interest in him/her and what he/she does. If you think your stepparent is getting involved in things that are none of his/her business or being too bossy with you, talk about it with your parent.
What about my half-siblings?
When the new partner of one of your parents has kids, you have to adapt to them too! Try to find common ground with them so things will go as smoothly as possible. If you have problems with a half-sibling that you can’t settle between the two of you, quickly tell your parent to prevent the conflict from getting worse.