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by self-help expert Dr Pam Spurr.

It’s that time of year when everyone’s supposed to be excited and happy. But when 40% of marriages end in divorce – and an even higher proportion of cohabiting couples break up – it’s far from happy for lots of teens and children.

If your parents have gone through this in recent months, you might be feeling anything from angry to broken-up about it.

Here are some things for you to try:

  • First off, we expect our parents to know what we’re thinking, but they don’t always. So let your parents know how you’re feeling about the situation. Even if they seem wrapped up in their own issues about it, let them know.
  • When to start that conversation? The best time is when you can see they aren’t stressed out. Because that way they can focus on what you’re saying. So maybe a quieter moment at the weekend or when you’re relaxing watching telly at night.
  • Some confide they’re worried about what to say to their parents. They say they don’t want to upset, e.g., their mother, any more than she already is. Trust me, you simply have to say that you want to chat. Your parents will want to know how you’re feeling!
  • Rely on your mates. Some tell me they’re embarrassed to tell their friends about their parents’ situation. But most friends will be supportive. If you know of someone else whose parents have split up, just talk to them about general stuff. When you get to know them a bit more, open up about your parents.
  • The majority of schools have someone like a school nurse or counsellor that you can see. Never feel an issue like your parents’ breakup isn’t important enough! So make an appointment to see them. It’s in confidence and can be great to off-load on someone who’s caring.
  • You might expect your parents to act like ‘adults’. But they might not behave in a grown-up way during the breakup. When angry with each other, they forget what they look like arguing. Leave the room if you can’t stand their arguing. But once they’ve calmed down, tell them their arguments upset you.
  • You might feel closer to one parent or the other. But both will probably want time with you over the Christmas holidays. Hopefully between themselves they’ll agree what happens. Do let them know how you feel about plans, though.
  • If one of them starts to criticise or run down the other, be brave, tell them you don’t want to hear bad stuff. Parents need reminding!
  • If your parents aren’t sorting out their differences, do talk to your grandparents, your favourite auntie or uncle, or an older brother or sister. Let them know how much arguing you hear/see, and that you’d like them to help calm things down between your parents.
  • Keep reminding yourself that parents might forget about your feelings if things have got bad between them. They don’t mean to but it happens! Keep letting them know how things are affecting you. Ask them for the attention, cuddles and love that you need.
  • But what if your parents seem disinterested? Sadly, some parents get overwhelmed with issues after a breakup. They can develop mental health issues like depression. It’s important to try to keep talking to them, but at the same time get in touch with the helping organisations below.

For more advice please check the following organisations


About the author: Dr Pam Spurr is an award-winning radio presenter, agony aunt, relationship, sex and behaviour expert, and life coach. Dr Pam is the author of 14 self-help books on topics including sex, dating, happiness, emotional eating and dream interpretation. She has appeared as a contributor on TV programmes including This Morning, Loose Women, LK Today, Daybreak, GMB, The Wright Stuff, BBC Breakfast, and for ten years running as a resident behaviour expert on Big Brother’s Little Brother and Big Brother’s Bit on the Side. Pam has a doctorate in psychology from a London teaching hospital and is a chartered research, academic and teaching psychologist. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research looked at parenting/family issues.

You can follow Dr Pam @drpamspurr or visit her website at

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