Supporting Children and Families
Family Breakdown - Surviving

It is important to know that when your parents split up it is not your fault. They are separating from each other not you. You can not keep them together as much as you think of ways of trying to keep them together - that is up to them.

Sometimes things are better off for the family when parents decide to separate. Even though your parents are splitting up remember the both of them are still your parents. Try to keep in contact with both of them unless one of them may try to harm you.

In some cases the parent who leaves may cut off all form of contact with the family. This can be very hard to deal with. Sometimes a way of dealing with this situation is pretending that you don’t care and that you hate that parent but in reality you may feel really hurt and sad, angry or rejected inside. When you feel this way it is important to get some support and talk about your feelings.

Also in some cases one parent might criticize their ex-partner. This could make you feel uncomfortable if so it is important for you to try and tell them that this is upsetting for you, because even though they have split up, there are still your mums or dad and you still love them.

You may also be used as a messenger because mums and dads may try and get information off you about their ex-partner. This can put you in an awkward position. It may be of some help if you explain to them that you do not want to be a middle person.

Remember it is perfectly normal for you to have strong reactions and emotions like feeling worried about your parents separating. It is also normal to feel bad if they are hostile towards each other.

Keep an eye on your siblings they may need support. They may also be good at supporting you too. It is of utmost importance to have an outlet for your feelings and to find emotional support. They are a lot of changes to deal with; some of these might be a new home, a new step-parent or a new school. Importantly you must ask for support from your parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends or a counselor.

Sometimes when parents are at war with each other it is important to seek external help such as counselling where they can learn of different ways of relating to each other.

When parents have separated and they continue fighting about unresolved issues, most commonly is when should the other parent have contact with his or her child or children, also property and financial issues? Mediation could be a way of resolving these conflicts.