I Want My Parents To Get Back Together

Published: April 21, 2014
Dear I Want My Parents To Get Back Together,

My parents separated about a year ago and their divorce is about to be final pretty soon. I thought I had accepted it, but I've been feeling really sad lately about it and I really want them to get back together. My mother is dating someone and it seems pretty serious. I do like the guy, but sometimes I wish he'd go away so my dad could have another chance. My mom keeps telling me the guys she's dating has nothing to do with it, but I can't help thinking that he does. Is is weird that I still want my parents back together?

Dear I Want My Parents To Get Back Together,

TeenHealthFX would like to start by saying that we don’t think it is at all “weird” for you to have this hope. It is perfectly normal for children of divorced parents to hope that their parents will reconcile and get back together for a variety of reasons. While we can appreciate how you feel, we would like you to consider the following:

When two people are in an unhappy marriage, the stress, unhappiness and anger can often carry over to the children in the home. And the children in the home will also not have a good model of what a healthy marriage looks like and will sometimes replicate the unhealthy patterns in their own future relationships. Because of these issues, sometimes it is helpful to the children involved for the parents to separate (provided the parents can do so in a way that is not contentious or that puts the kids in the middle). But no matter how amicable a divorce it is, there are, of course, going to be difficult things for the children involved to deal with. Many kids will blame themselves, most kids will have some level of difficulty adjusting to the disruptions in their lives (spending holidays separately, going back and forth between homes, giving up certain activities because of a change in finances, etc.). Because of some of the difficult things or adjustments you have had to make it is understandable there would be a part of you that would like them to get back together. And it can take a long time to come to a place of acceptance that this isn’t going to happen.

FX can also appreciate your conflicted feelings about your mother’s boyfriend. It sounds like you like him as a person, but you may also feel like you are betraying your father to like this man. You might also feel like his presence makes it impossible for your parents to reconcile. But FX would like to stress that this guy probably has nothing to do with your parents being together or not. It sounds like your mom has tried to convey that to you – that she would not be with your father whether this man was involved or not. So try not to look at him as the one who is getting in the way. The problem is not this guy – the problem was the relationship between your parents. FX also wants to let you know that it is perfectly fine for you to have positive feelings towards your mother’s boyfriend. He is not there to replace your father – FX can’t imagine that this guy or your mother would expect that. Your relationship with your father will always be unique and special – in a different way than with the man your mother is with.  

The last thing FX would like to say is that is makes sense that these feelings might be surfacing given that your parents’ divorce is about to be finalized. A new phase in the divorce process can bring up feelings of loss, so please know it is normal that you might be experiencing anger, sadness or other feelings at different phases of this process.

If you find you are having trouble coping with this situation or could use someone to talk to about your feelings, FX definitely recommends that you reach out to a trusted adult for support and guidance. You could speak to one of your parents, a counselor at school, or a private therapist. You could also find out if there is a group for teens with divorced parents in your community that you could attend. It is really important that you feel you have a safe, private place to discuss the feelings coming up for you. 

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

For more information, you can read the TeensHealth article on Dealing With Divorce.