Teen FAQ

Here are some common questions teens ask when their parents are splitting up:

  1. What is the difference between separation and divorce?
  2. I'm feeling guilty about my parents splitting up. Was there something I did to cause it?
  3. Can I do anything to get my parents back together?
  4. I have so many questions about why this has happened and what is going to happen in the future. How much can I ask my parents?
  5. Will I be able to spend time with both parents?
  6. I'm feeling really upset and confused about my parents splitting up. Is this normal?
  7. Do I have to take sides, or choose one parent over the other?
  8. If my parents divorce, will the same thing happen to me?
  9. My parents never married. Do they have to go through the same process that married parents do when they split up?
  10. Who decides who I will live with? Do I get a say?
  11. What will my friends say when they find out about my parents splitting up?
  12. I really feel like I need some help in dealing with this. Who should I ask?


 

  1. What is the difference between separation and divorce?

    When two people have been living together and they decide not to live together anymore, they are separated.

    However, when married people separate, their marriage has not yet ended. They have to get a divorce to legally end a marriage.

    Couples who have not been married don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end. But they may still be going to court to decide on parenting time and dividing property.

  2. I'm feeling guilty about my parents splitting up. Was there something I did to cause it?

    It's very common for teens to believe that they have somehow caused their parents to split up. But you are not the reason for your parents splitting up. Parents split up because of problems in their relationship.

    It's not your fault!

  3. Can I do anything to get my parents back together?

    Most parents split up only after trying very hard to save their relationship. Their decision to separate or divorce is usually final.

    Some teens hope and believe that if they try to be on their very best behavior, their parents will get back together. However, this plan isn't likely to work, since their parents' decision to split up had nothing to do with them.

    Apart from suggesting that your parents see a marriage counselor, if they haven't already done so, the best thing that you can do is to begin to accept the situation so that you can get on with your life.

  4. I have so many questions about why this has happened and what is going to happen in the future. How much can I ask my parents?

    If there are things you need to know, ask.

    You have a right to ask questions about what is going to happen and why. Although you need to respect your parents' right to privacy, they have a responsibility to answer your questions as best they can about things that directly affect you.

  5. Will I be able to spend time with both parents?

    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, will depend on your custody and parenting time (visitation) arrangements.

    Remember: Parents divorce each other, not their children. Your parents are still your parents, and they still love you.

  6. I'm feeling really upset and confused about my parents splitting up. Is this normal?

    Your parents splitting up might be the hardest thing you've ever had to deal with. So it's natural—and entirely normal—to experience some intense emotions.

    You will feel better over time. There are lots of ways to help yourself feel better, and people who can help you if you need it.

  7. Do I have to take sides, or choose one parent over the other?

    No, you don't. You have the right to love and be loved by both parents.

    If you are feeling pressured to take sides, and you feel you are caught in the middle of your parents' problems, tell them. They might be so caught up in their own problems that they don't even know they are doing it, and once they do, they might stop.

  8. If my parents divorce, will the same thing happen to me?

    Many teens whose parents split up feel anxious about their own relationships in the future. But just because your parents split up doesn't mean the same thing will happen to you. You can learn from their mistakes. What happens in your relationships will be up to you, not your parents!

  9. My parents never married. Do they have to go through the same process that married parents do when they split up?

    Parents who never married or chose to live together without getting married—don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end. But they do need to decide what will happen to their children and how they will divide their property.

  10. Who decides who I will live with? Do I get a say?

    In some cases, your parents will make the decisions together about who you will live with and how that will work.

    If they can't decide themselves, they might go to a mediator for help in reaching an agreement. Or they might have to go to court and have a judge make the decisions for them.

    Whether your parents make the decisions about custody and parenting time (visitation) themselves, or with the help of a mediator or a judge, your opinion may be taken into account.

  11. What will my friends say when they find out about my parents splitting up?

    Lots of teens worry about breaking the news to their friends. Some feel embarrassed about what is happening.

    Separation and divorce are very common these days. That means that many people have been through it themselves, and most probably know someone who has.

    Good friends will be glad you've told them. They'll know that you're still you, even though your family is changing.
     

  12. I really feel like I need some help in dealing with this. Who should I ask?

    There are lots of people around you who can help. Tell your parents, teacher, school counselor, family doctor or another adult you trust. If they can't help you themselves, they should be able to help you find someone who can.

    If you aren't getting the help you think you need, keep asking until you get it.