Is it normal to hate your parents for splitting up?
Coping with your parent’s separation is a bit like surviving a zombie apocalypse: You’ll face a lot of trauma, you’ll need to figure out where to find shelter and you may have to watch the people you love tear each other to pieces. This survival guide should equip you with the tools you need to make it to the other side with your heart and brains intact.
In the clip above from Hollyoaks: Tom’s Life, Tom realises his parents are never going to see eye-to-eye. Check out the full episode on All 4 to see how he bounces back.
Is is normal to... hate your parents for splitting up?
If your parents decide to go their separate ways, it could be you that's left feeling adrift. Check out our tops tips for getting through the experience...
Understanding your emotions
Once your folks have made the big announcement, you’re going to find yourself on an emotional roller coaster. Knowing what to expect can help you hold it all together.
Shock and anger
Even if you’ve seen it coming, the news that your parents are calling it quits can hit you like a ton of bricks. Once you’re over the initial disbelief, the numbness will probably give way to a whole heap of anger. Whilst your rage is perfectly natural, going on a rampage isn’t going to solve anything. Try and find outlets for your feelings, talk to friends and siblings and try and find controlled ways to let your emotions out. Check out our article on anger for ideas on how to cope.
If you’ve just lost something important in your life it’s fine to be upset about it. The same emotions come into play during your parents’ separation as they would if someone close to you had died. Don’t be afraid to have a cry and let your emotions out – it’s important part of the grieving process.
Chances are you’ll end up wondering if this is somehow all your fault. Trust us, it’s not. Your parents are grown-ups and are responsible for their own actions – nothing you could have done would have made any difference and nobody has the right to put the blame on you. Our article on grief has some useful coping strategies.
This could feel a bit wrong but you might actually feel a teeny bit relieved that your parents have split up. If you’ve been in the thick of blazing rows, simmering resentment, snarky sniping and a truckload of tension, the calm after the storm might be one of the few good things to come out of the break-up.
OK, this is happening. Your parents are going through with it and nothing you can do will change their minds. So what will happen next, how are things going to change and what can you do to survive it?
Can you change things?
Unless you’re living in a cheesy kid’s movie, you’re probably not going to get your parents back together. Persuading them to stay together is only going to make them more miserable and make things pretty grim for you too.
This is the biggie. If your parents are going to live apart, they’re going to have to figure out which one of them you’re going to stay with. There may be practical reasons why you have to live with a particular parent and the choice may be taken out of your hands. However, whilst you might not get to make the final decision, it’s really important to have your say.
Just because you’re no longer living with your mum or dad doesn’t mean they’re no longer part of your life. In most cases you’ll be able to see them regularly, maybe on certain evenings or at weekends. Just because you’re not under the same roof as them any more doesn’t mean they love you any less.
In an ideal world, your parents should be able to decide upon your living and visiting arrangements themselves but sometimes this just won’t happen. In these circumstances they may need to bring in a professional family mediator who will talk to everyone involved to try and come to a decision – including you.
If mediation fails your parents may have to resort to legal action. Here a court will decide who you live with (a ‘residence order’) and how much contact you have with the other parent (a ‘contact order’). In either case the court will take your feelings into account when making their decision. No matter what the outcome, you’ll still be able to phone, email or write to each other as much as you like – this sort of contact isn’t limited by the outcome of a legal case.
No matter how things pan out, remember that your parents are still your parents whether they’re together or apart. Even if their feelings for each other have changed, it doesn’t mean they love you any less.
You choose your friends, but not your family and sometimes, the hardest part is dealing with those who are supposed to be closest to you. Our support site has advice and non-judgemental resources to help you cope with all kinds of family issues.