Separation: Tips for Coping

Understanding your Own Feelings and Needs during Separation

It’s completely normal to have very strong feelings about your separation. These might include:

Shock, sadness, regret, loneliness, foolishness, blame, guilt, anger, worry about the future (e.g. about money, your children), grief, shame, jealousy, resentment, disappointment, relief, hopelessness or exhaustion.

It’s important not to let your feelings take over. If you do, you are more likely to:

  • Be unreasonable and not think clearly about what’s best for your child.
  • Try to get your teenager to take sides.
  • Try to punish your former partner.
  • Try to block your former partner from your teenager’s life.

Take care of yourself during this time and get help with your own painful feelings. If you are able to make a healthy adjustment, your teenage child will be more likely to do so too.

Tips for coping

  • Take good care of your health (get enough sleep, eat well and take regular exercise – all great stress busters!)
  • Tell people what’s happening, especially family and friends, and what they can do to help.
  • Take a mental break for a while. Spend time doing something you enjoy, treat yourself or have some fun.
  • Don’t cut yourself off from family and friends.
  • Keep in touch with your feelings. Keep a diary. Talk to a trusted friend.
  • Make a list of things that are better since you separated. Think positive thoughts.
  • Make plans for the future.
  • Let your children see you laugh.
  • Focus on what you know will make your children happy.
  • Never hesitate to ask for help. Let others support you along the way. It does make a difference.

Sources of support for separating parents include:

  • Trusted friends or family members.
  • Support groups – It can help to talk to other parents who have separated.
  • Services for separating families or a counsellor or therapist

Seeking professional support for yourself or your teenage child is not a sign of weakness, but an acknowledgement that separation is a major life crisis for a family.

“This information is taken from the Parenting Positively series, a series of booklets by Barnardos that provides information and guidance to parents of children between the ages of 6 and 12. The aim is to help to create a positive, loving and supportive relationship between you and your child. Please see for further details”. To see the full Parenting Positive Booklet click here.