Coping when parents get divorced in your teens

How do you cope when your Mum and Dad’s relationship is in trouble? 

Is your relationship affecting your teenager?

On this week’s episode of the podcast I had a fascinating chat with Olivia (not her real name) about how she felt as a child and teenager witnessing the difficulties in her parents’ marriage after her father was unfaithful to her mother over the course of several years.

Olivia’s parents are still together, but throughout her teenage years she was affected by the impact her father’s affairs had on her own life, and on her mother’s emotional health. From financial losses and the need to change schools, to difficulties in seeing her extended family, the practical problems of a messy marriage weren’t the only challenges Olivia faced.

How parents’ relationship breakdowns affect their children

Olivia says that any parents navigating the potential breakdown of their marriage need to bear in mind that having to monitor and worry about the state of your parents’ relationship is really tough on a child, especially when they’re just discovering who they are themselves, with all the stresses that brings.

How parents can help their child navigate a divorce or separation

Her biggest piece of advice? Understand that your kids are teenagers. They have their own problems, and will find the addition of yours overwhelming at times. As such, Olivia says that whilst it’s important to be honest with teens, you also need to make sure you don’t burden them with more information than they can handle at that moment. There will come a time for whole truths, but perhaps that time isn’t always in the moment.

“Understand that they are teenagers, and they’ve only just left behind their childhood.”

Have a listen to the episode for more reassurance and guidance from Olivia on how to support your child as you go through a separation or relationship crisis.

Listen to the podcast:

You can find the episode in your usual podcast app, or if you prefer, you can listen online below, or through the podcast page.

View on Zencastr

Further Support

  • Charity Relate has a good page on how to talk to children about divorce and separation
  • Voices in the Middle is an organisation created for young people by young people, and can offer tips to parents about how to start the conversation on relationship difficulties.


Subscribe to the Teenage Kicks podcast

Thank you so much for listening! Subscribe now to the Teenage Kicks podcast to hear about the new series when it begins. I’ll be talking to some fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers – including losing a parent, being hospitalised with mental health problems, and battling an eating disorder – and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Contact me here, or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

I’d love it if you’d rate and review the podcast on iTunes too – it would really help other people to find it.

For information on your data privacy please visit Zencastr. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you’re worried about a young person please seek support from a medical professional. 

Join me in the Teenage Kicks Facebook group!

If you’re a parent of teens it can be difficult to know where to go for advice, to vent, or just to talk. So I’ve made the Teenage Kicks Facebook group, for all parents of teenagers to chat in a safe space. It’s a private group and everyone in there will be a parent of teenagers.

And if you’re stuck for how to engage with your teenager, this list of things for teens to do might be helpful.

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