Family break-up

Separation and/or divorce are pretty common and how it affects each family varies, but it can be a really challenging time. Some of the normal reaction to family break up include anger, helplessness, loss, grief, fear, worry, resentment, but you may also feel a sense of relief.

It's helpful to:

  • talk openly with your parents about what is happening and why
  • let your parents know your opinion on living arrangements
  • ask them not to talk to you about their problems with each other
  • spend time with both your parents separately so that you can build on your relationships
  • learn a bit more about coping with separation and divorce by talking to others with similar experiences, read websites and participate in forums
  • talk to someone outside the situation, like a school counsellor or a family court counsellor.

It's not helpful to:

  • use alcohol or drugs to dull your pain
  • act out your frustrations with risky behaviour (e.g. reckless driving)
  • take out your anger on others
  • experiment casually with sex to get close to someone
  • hide your feelings to protect someone else.


It’s impossible to predict how long it will take to adjust to new family arrangements – it will be different for everyone. Difficult feelings might come and go for some time before you feel as though you’ve adjusted to the changes in your life. Talking about it with someone you trust can help you make sense of what’s going on for you. 

If you’re really struggling to cope, and think you might be experiencing anxiety or depression, find out more about these conditions and where to get support.