Is anyone else going through this?
Yes. Separation happens a lot, even to families that have been together for years. Thousands of other teenagers in Ireland belong to families where parents live apart.
It can be hard to talk about the separation because you might feel embarrassed or disloyal to your parents, or unsure about who you can trust to understand. The important thing is not to try to ignore what's happening or gloss over it.
Remember, some of the other teenagers in your group or at school might also be going through the same thing. Ask around. It might help to talk to them when you feel ready.
Will it always be this hard?
Separation is a major event. When it happens, your everyday life can often feel stressful and confusing. The changes that come with separation can be hard to accept all at once. It may not seem like it now, but dealing with all of the changes will get easier with time. Most teenagers find that they come through this difficult time okay.
Why do parents separate?
The reasons parents separate are different for each family. Parents might no longer love each other or be able to live happily together, one may have changed in some ways and the other cannot adapt, a parent may love someone else or there may be underlying problems such as alcoholism, abuse, violence or mental health problems such as depression.
Parents, like all human beings, aren't perfect. If the decision to separate is made by one parent, rather than as a joint decision, both will usually be hurt and disappointed that their couple relationship has ended. Couples never started a life together thinking it will end in separation.
The decision to separate will not have been easy to make. It's likely that your parents spent a long time trying to solve their problems before deciding separation is the best thing for their relationship and the whole family. Even if you don't want it, or understand it, trust that your parent's decision was made with you in mind.
Try not to take sides or judge who is right or wrong. It's important for you to try to have a relationship with both parents during and after the separation.
‘I probably would have preferred if I could see both of them all the time... but I know that wasn't possible because they couldn't live together.' (Girl, aged 16)
Is it my fault? Is there anything I could have done to prevent it?
No. It's common for teenagers to think that their parent's separation is somehow their fault, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Separation is as a result of your parent's problems with each other, not with you. There is nothing that you said or did that caused it, and nothing you could have done to change it. The decisions your parents have taken about their separation are their own.
I'm relieved that my parents separated. Is this normal?
Sometimes before parents separate they have been arguing or fighting a lot. In some families there may have been physical violence, alcohol problems, or other situations that created stress. After the separation, it is normal to experience feelings of relief as your home life becomes more stable.
‘For me it's a good thing... ‘cause I don't have to listen to them fighting no more.' (Boy, 14)
‘Yeah, I feel a bit of relief because I know, like, exactly what's happening and... and what everything is, like.' (Girl, aged 14)
My parents separated a while ago. Shouldn't I be over it by now?
Even if you have become used to most of the changes that followed your parent's separation, it's normal to continue to have feelings about it. Strong feelings might be awakened over time as new situations arise, such as:
Take time to work through these feelings. Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, brother or sister or close friend.
Does this mean I'll have problem in my own relationships?
Just because your parents separated doesn't mean that you will have problems in your own relationships. The key to good relationships is good communication and respecting yourself and others.