Some teens feel embarrassed when their parents split up.

They might be embarrassed about the intensity of their feelings, like it's not "cool" to be upset. But the feelings are natural, and the best thing to do is to accept them and do what you can to feel better.

Teens might also be worried about what other people will think. But separation and divorce are very common these days. In Canada, between 25% and 33% of marriages end in divorce. What that means is that many people have been through it themselves, and most people probably know someone who has.

See Breaking the news for some tips on telling your friends.

Q & A

Q:
I'm feeling guilty about my parents splitting up. Was there something I did to cause it?
A:

It's very common for teens to believe that they have somehow caused their parents to split up. But you are not the reason for your parents splitting up. Parents split up because of problems in their relationship.

It's not your fault!

Q:
I'm feeling really upset and confused about my parents splitting up. Is this normal?
A:

It's natural — and entirely normal — to experience some intense emotions. You will feel better over time. There are lots of ways to help yourself feel better, and people who can help you if you need it.

Q:
Who decides who I will live with? Do I get a say?
A:

In some cases, your parents will make the decisions together about who you will live with and how that will work.

If they can't decide themselves, they might go to a mediator for help in reaching an agreement. Or they might have to go to court and have a judge make the decisions for them.

Whether your parents make the decisions about custody and parenting time (visitation) themselves, or with the help of a mediator or a judge, your opinion may be taken into account.

Q:
What is the difference between separation and divorce?
A:

When two people have been living together and they decide not to live together anymore, they are separated.

However, when married people separate, their marriage has not yet ended. They have to get a divorce to legally end a marriage.

Couples who have not been married don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end. But they may still be going to court to decide on parenting time and dividing property.

Q:
I really feel like I need some help in dealing with this. Who should I ask?
A:

There are lots of people around you who can help. Tell your parents, teacher, school counselor, family doctor or another adult you trust. If they can't help you themselves, they should be able to help you find someone who can.

If you aren't getting the help you think you need, keep asking until you get it.