Why It's Happening

Previous Next

Sometimes parents split up when they have been fighting and unhappy for a long time.  And sometimes it seems to happen suddenly, when nothing appeared to be wrong, and it's really hard to understand why they have to split up at all.

There are many reasons why parents decide to split up—as many reasons as there are couples.  And with each couple, there might be one main reason, or a whole pile of reasons.

In any case, everyone has their own reasons.  And whatever the reasons, it's never an easy decision, parents usually try very hard to solve their problems before they take action.

Here are some common reasons why parents separate or divorce:

  • They grew apart—Maybe they were both very busy and rarely saw each other, or a job or interest took them in a different direction, but one or both of them changed. The strong attraction they felt when they were first together was lost, or maybe they just can't agree on anything anymore. Sometimes parents don't see or acknowledge problems in their relationship until it's too late.
  • Another relationship—If a parent falls in love with someone else, he or she might want to leave in order to be with that other person. Or the other parent might feel so betrayed that it is impossible to continue.
  • Hard times—Sometimes a relationship breaks down under the strain of problems like a severe illness in the family, a parent losing a job, or a lack of money. If there were already problems in the relationship, hard times can be the last straw.
  • Alcoholism, drug abuse, or violence—Addiction to alcohol or drugs (or even to other things like gambling), as well as violent behavior, can cause problems in a relationship and can ultimately end it.

You might have experienced some of the same things in friendships and relationships of your own.

If you're not sure what your parents' reasons are for splitting up, you can always ask.

Your parents might be relieved that you have asked, and give you a direct answer. On the other hand, they might want to keep their privacy. Or they might not be able to give you a clear answer, because they're not all that clear about it themselves.

The worst thing that could happen when you ask your parents why they are splitting up is that they tell you things you don't want or need to know. For example, one parent could say really hurtful things about the other parent. If that happens, tell the parent that it hurts you to hear this, and ask him or her to stop.

No matter what kind of answer your parents give you, the most important thing is that you are not the reason for your parents splitting up. It's not your fault!

Remember: Parents split up with each other because of problems in their relationship. They don't split up with their kids.

Your parents are still your parents. They still love you, even if they don't love each other anymore.

Q & A

What is the difference between separation and divorce?

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.

I have so many questions about why this has happened and what is going to happen in the future. How much can I ask my parents?

If there are things you need to know, ask.

You have a right to ask questions about what is going to happen and why. Although you need to respect your parents' right to privacy, they have a responsibility to answer your questions as best they can about things that directly affect you.

Can I do anything to get my parents back together?

Most parents split up only after trying very hard to save their relationship. Their decision to separate or divorce is usually final.

Some teens hope and believe that if they try to be on their very best behavior, their parents will get back together. However, this plan isn't likely to work, since their parents' decision to split up had nothing to do with them.

Apart from suggesting that your parents see a marriage counselor, if they haven't already done so, the best thing that you can do is to begin to accept the situation so that you can get on with your life.