Helping you get through tough times

Helping a friend whose parents are getting divorced

Parental separation can be really difficult for the whole family. If this is going on for your friend they’ll be experiencing loads of changes.

Tea cosy housesParent break up can happen after long periods of fighting and unhappiness.

Sometimes it can happen suddenly, which makes it hard to understand why there needs to be change at all.

They may have to move, or share their time between each parent.

This means they’d have to split their time and a lot of their stuff up. All of this can be really challenging.

Supporting your friend

Let them know you’re there for them if they need someone to talk to. They may feel lonely, especially if their parents are distracted with handling the divorce.

Your friend probably needs someone to listen about what’s upsetting them. Especially if they feel they can’t talk to their parents about it.

Remind them it won’t change your friendship and you’ll be there to help them out.

Talk to them about whether they’re OK with you telling anyone. They may want to be the one to tell people.

Let them break the news when they’re ready.

Keep in touch

If your friend has to move because of their parents’ divorce, this can cause them to feel lonely.

Make sure you keep in touch. You could call, text, skype or even send an email to ask how they’re doing.

Depending on how far away they live, maybe you can plan a weekend to visit them or they could visit you.

Let them know they aren’t losing you as a friend just because they’re in a new location or school.

Give them space

Depending on how they are handling the divorce, they might not be ready to talk about what’s going on.

They may want to be left alone for awhile or talk about something else. If so, give them space.

Don’t force them to talk about what’s going on or try to make them do anything they aren’t ready to do yet.

If they feel like too much is changing, try just hanging out like you used to. Read more in if someone pushes you away.

Don’t walk on eggshells

You may try to not tell your friend about things that are bothering you, or your own hard times because you’re afraid they can’t handle it.

Talking to your friend about things that are bothering you too, can help them feel like everything is still normal.

If they feel out of the loop with their friends, it could cause them to feel even more alone.

Be patient and set boundaries

After the initial shock of everything has worn off, your friend may still be having a hard time.

Try not to tell them to stop being cranky or to “get over it.” Remember, their entire life is changing. That takes time to get used to.

Be aware they’re likely being angry because they’re still upset. That doesn’t mean you have to take their anger.

If they’re being mean to you, call them out on it. If they just seem a little moody though, that’s the time to give them some leeway.

Finding help

Your friend may benefit from talking face-to-face to a professional. Sometimes, schools provide counselling services that you might not know about.

If they were comfortable with it, your friend might appreciate help with finding the right person to talk to.

Take care of yourself

You may worry about the same thing happening to your parents.

Try talking to your parents about these worries. Ask them about their marriage and what they do when they have tough times.

Make sure to take care of yourself too. Do something special that helps you relax and makes you happy.

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This article was last reviewed on 28 March 2017

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