In the middle of a divorce, parents can become tired and confused and get things wrong. In this situation, you can become stuck in the middle.
Your parents may use you to pass messages to each other or complain about the other parent. Occasionally, one or both of your parents might also ask you questions about what the other is doing or who you like the best.
You do not have to listen when parents say bad things about each other. Say you love them both and hearing this upsets you. You may have to say this more than once.
Remember, divorce is new for your parents too and they may make mistakes.
What You Should Expect
Even if they are splitting up, your parents are still both responsible for looking after you and you should be able to expect them to:
- Behave well towards each other when you are around.
- Be able to sit down together and talk about things to do with you.
- Talk to you about spending time with both your parents and the people you love.
It is hard but if your parents are doing things that are upsetting and hurting you, it can really help to tell them about it. Choose a time when things have calmed down or if you really can’t face talking to them, write them a letter.
Is It My Fault?
“A few months before my parents split up I had been in trouble at school and mum and dad had been called in to see the teacher. When my dad moved out I felt really guilty – like I had something to do with it. One weekend visit I talked to him about it and he was really shocked. He told me that he and mum hadn’t been getting on for a long time – before I even went to that school, and that they just couldn’t live together any more and be happy.” Matt, 12.
It is common to feel that it might be your fault your parents are splitting up. You may wonder if it might not have happened if you had behaved better or not asked for new clothes or kept your room tidier. You may have heard your parents arguing about you leading up to the divorce, and believe that they are angry or upset with you.
It’s natural to feel that it could be your fault. Divorce is an upsetting and confusing time and you are trying to make sense of a difficult and complicated situation.
Remember that parent’s feelings towards each other are different from their love for you. Whilst their feelings towards each other have changed, their feelings for you will be the same. Even if they are very angry and upset with each other, this is completely separate from their love for you. A parent’s love for you is unconditional whereas the love between two adults can change and break down.