Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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What are my children feeling?

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The chart below shows the types of feelings identified in the Kids’ Guide and Teen Guide.


Children Teens
  • Sad
  • Mad
  • Scared
  • Worried
  • Ashamed
  • Guilty
  • Confused
  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Relief
  • Sadness
  • Embarrassment
  • Hope


Here are some of the most common things that might upset your children:

  1. Arguing: Having arguments with your ex-partner in front of the children can really hurt and confuse them. If you can, you and your ex should agree to not argue in front of your children. If you can’t do this, you might have to avoid talking with the other parent when the children are there.
  2. Seeing you or their other parent crying: It is OK to cry! You are going through a lot, and crying is a normal way to react. But remember that your children are dealing with a lot, too. Seeing you cry might make your children feel like they have to take care of you or make you feel better. This really isn’t something they should have to do.
  3. Missing the parent they are not with: It is normal for children to miss their other parent. The kids may not be used to seeing both parents every day. Don’t discourage your kids from missing their other parent. Give your kids pictures of their other parent, and let them know that they can call, email or text them any time. They can use free online conferencing. Try to help them stay in touch!
  4. Feeling different from other kids: Your children might feel different from their friends because of all the changes happening in their lives. They might feel like they don’t have a normal family or like they are losing their family. Let them know that you are still a family. They probably have other friends with divorced parents. You can point this out to help them feel more normal. You can also suggest that they talk to some of these friends about what they’re feeling.
  5. Hoping that you’ll get back together: It is normal for kids to hope that their parents will get back together. This doesn’t usually happen. Be very clear with your children that you’ve decided to get a divorce and won’t be getting back together. If your kids think you might get back together, it will just make it harder for them to adjust. Sometimes kids think that if they do everything right, you’ll get back together. Make sure you let them know that your divorce isn’t their fault and that there’s nothing they can do to change it.
  6. Feeling like they have to choose: Your children don’t want to have to choose between you and your ex. They love both of you, and they need to know that you both love them. Don’t put your kids in a situation where they feel like they have to take sides or choose between you.