If your parents are separated, going through a divorce or have recently remarried, you may be feeling confused, angry, guilty, frustrated, sad or lonely. If you haven't experienced this yourself, you probably have a friend or know someone who has. Separation and divorce hurts. It hurts the parents and the children. This is a difficult time for all family members. It is hard for children to accept that no matter how good they are, how great their grades are, or how bad they act; they don't have any power to bring their parents together. It also is hard to understand that even if your parents no longer love each other or get along, that doesn't change their love for you. To help you deal with your feelings, there are programs that can help you. Or talk with your parents, family members, clergy, teacher, or a concerned friend.

Check with your school counselor to see if your school offers a support group for young people who are experiencing feelings about divorce, separation and/or remarriage. You may be surprised to find out how many people have gone through or are experiencing what you are. (Also see COUNSELING, p.14).

Parent Dating

Once your parents' breakup is final, at some point one or both of your parents may start dating. Young people feel differently about this, although many agree it's strange to see their mother or father with a different man or woman at first. Some youth want to see their parent(s) meet others and start dating; others may feel scared, jealous, angry, or resentful of the person the parent is dating. Some youth believe that this new person may become more important to their parents than they are. Often, it is just as difficult and strange for parents to start dating as it is for their children to see them dating. Remember, just as you need friends your age, your parents need someone their age to share and do things with. Share your feelings with your parents.

Step families

Many young people live in "step" or "blended" families. This is a situation in which a parent remarries someone who also has a family and the two households join. For some young people their "new family" is an enjoyable one; others struggle with getting used to the situation and others feel they cannot accept or are not accepted by their "new family". Try to talk with your parents about this or someone else you respect and trust or see the counseling information.

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