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Separation can often be a couples first step towards trying to improve their relationship although it can also be the first step towards a breakup or divorce. Dont blame yourself for your parents separation. They are adults and are trying to work out problems between them the best way they know how. Back to top

Divorce of your parents may leave you feeling anxious, withdrawn or depressed. These intense feelings may express themselves as shame, anger, grief or poor performance in school. Some kids describe their parents divorce as the most painful experience of their childhood. So allow yourself to feel the pain, but try to keep making the best choices you can to take care of yourself and also to be fair to your parents. Remember that your parents are also going through a difficult time. Both of them are still your parents and you should never have to take sides if you dont wa nt to. It helps to talk. If you cant tell your parents how you feel, find another adult you can trust like a friends parent, school counsellor or relative. Back to top


An alcoholic or drug addicted parent can make you sad or anxious. If they are struggling with addiction, they are probably not able to care for you well or give you much attention. This can be very difficult to deal with. Remember, its not your fault even if your parent tries to blame you for their problems. The best way to cope is to talk to someone you trust who might convince your parent to get help. Take care of yourself as well, and try to talk to someone about how the problem has been affecting you. Back to top

An abused parents low self-esteem may keep them from seeking help to escape their abusive relationship. They may be anxious and depressed and take it out on you. Again, talk to someone you can trust someone who might be willing to talk to your parent and get them the help they need before the situation gets worse. You may find it helpful to speak to a counsellor at school, who help you see the problem from a different point of view and help you find resources. Back to top

An abusive parent has no right to abuse you. Child abuse is against the law. This includes abuse of any minors (under 18). No parent, step-parent, relative or friend of the family is allowed to abuse you physically, sexually or emotionally. Don't feel badly about looking out for yourself. Tell someone right away an adult you trust. If they don't help, tell someone else until you find help. Remember that it is never your fault when someone abuses you. Their behaviour is wrong, and not related to anything you did. If you being abused and you are 15 or under, Children's Aid can help. Find an Ontario Children's Aid in your area here. If you are 16 or older, email us at and one of our counsellor can help you get the support you need, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. If you are in immediate danger, phone 911. For more info on dealing with abuse, click here. Back to top


Parents who nag or criticize can make you frustrated or angry. Sometimes parents have a hard time realizing that you are growing up and becoming more independent. It can help to keep your parents on your side by showing love, appreciation and interest in them and being as pleasant to them as you want them to be to you. Parents want to know youre listening. Show that you listen and understand their criticism by repeating what they say in a respectful way. Get them to talk about what they did as teenagers this may remind them of what youre going through. Sometimes parents criticize you too much or even put you down. Try talking to your parents or writing them a letter about how you feel. If that doesnt work, talk to an adult you trust about it. Back to top


Parents who are overprotective usually make rules because they love you and don't want you to get hurt. Keep them up on the important things going on in your life and introduce them to your friends. Show them that you understand their fears. For example, I understand you think its not safe for me to go out late on Saturday night but I promise to tell you wher e Im going and who Im going with." If you cant talk to them without getting upset, write a letter. Let them know you are thinking about how they feel, and then spell out your own point of view. Back to top


Parents who fight can be upsetting or disturbing. When they are calm, tell your parents that their fighting bothers you. Try to understand each parent's point of view dont feel you have to take sides. If they are insensitive to your feelings, go for a walk, phone a friend or do something else to avoid watching them fight. If their fights are physical, you should talk to an adult you trust like a relative, a counsellor or a family friend before it gets out of control especially if there is a danger that you or your siblings will get hurt. If your home isn't a safe place and you are 15 or under, Children's Aid can help. Find an Ontario Children's Aid in your area here. If you are 16 or older, email us at and one of our counsellor can help you get the support you need, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. If you are in immediate danger, phone 911. Back to top

A parent's remarriage can be confusing and stressful. It might help to do something nice for your step-parent, to break the ice. Let them know you understand that they are in love and need time alone with your parent. If you feel left out, talk to your parent and find a compromise. Remember that your step-parent is not replacing your other parent. This can be a difficult time for your other parent, but try not to get caught up with their feelings too much. You shouldnt have to take sides between your parents if you dont want to. If your step-parent is unkind or disrespectful to you, talk to your parent or an adult you trust. Back to top

FAMILY PROBLEMS Family Difficulties are often a primary source of students distress, giving rise to a variety of issues that they may have to deal with. The difficulties may involve contemporary conflicts, disruptions and / or crises both within the family and between the student and salient family members. It is also very common that family problems lie beneath the surface of students complaints, both academic and social.

Two factors in particular seem to contribute to this situation: The changes in the structure of the family stemming from womens changing position in the society, the changing sexual division of labour and the increasing rates of separation / divorce. The developmental status of students who are in the process of separating and establishing themselves as autonomous individuals. What are the different types of family difficulties? Autonomy struggles in conflicted families Students internal conflicts about becoming independent may have special intensity and meaning when their families are divided and hence insecure. Students then may fear to become autonomous and disrupt the family further. Autonomy struggles usually manifest themselves in crises centered around academic performance - the most obvious avenue to independence at this life stage. For example, a students ambivalence about detaching him / herself from home may be expressed as a fear of success. They may be fully able to succeed, want to do so, and at the same time feel that they are needed at home. Their role as focus of parental conflict may block them in attempts to achieve. Students who have been forced to comply with the wishes of a controlling parent may express their autonomy struggles in crises of will, such as loss of motivation, absenteeism and so on. Difficulties stemming from loss Parental death, separation / divorce, and disabling illness constitute significant losses for students. Usually these losses have taken place prior to the college years and may be implicated in concerns about current relationships, depressive feelings and identity conflicts, fears and sense of aloneness during periods of

separation. Frequently students adopt a stance of pseudoindependence and they need to find ways by which to obtain and accept emotional supports. An earlier loss may be reactivated by the developmental stage and by a current family situation. Consequently, the student may need to express their grief for the lost parent, and face the feelings associated with the deceased in order to free up the capacity for future attachments.