Families Change
Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Acting Out

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Sometimes teens respond to their parents' splitting up by acting out: skipping or quitting school, partying, drinking or doing drugs, or breaking the law.

While this might help you escape temporarily, reality and your feelings will always come back. “Acting out” will bring about other problems that will only make things worse. Try to face the situation as best you can instead of running away from it. Here's how:

  • Try to be good to yourself, and help yourself feel better.
  • Use some of the tips for dealing with specific situations listed in Strategies.
  • Check out some of the people, books, and other sources of help in Resources.
  • And get help if you need it.

Q & A

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:
If my parents divorce, will the same thing happen to me?
A:

Many teens whose parents split up feel anxious about their own relationships in the future. But just because your parents split up doesn't mean the same thing will happen to you. What happens in your relationships will be up to you, not your parents!

Q:
Can I do anything to get my parents back together?
A:

Most parents split up only after trying very hard to save their relationship. Some teens hope and believe that if they try to be on their very best behaviour, 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. Their decision to separate or divorce is usually final.