Family problems can impact heavily on children, and they often rely on their friends for support when things are difficult at home. For Max, 13, he found support and help from his school friends when his parents announced they were getting divorced.
Max said: “I was 13 when I was told my parents were splitting up. I wasn’t that surprised and I hadn’t been getting on with my Dad for ages but it was still unsettling and a bit weird. I knew that lots of my friends had divorced parents and it’s quite common for children to be brought up in a house with just one parent so I didn’t feel like the odd one out.”
“My friends were brilliant and really helped me a lot. They made the whole thing really normal and taught me how not to get dragged in to my parents arguments – they argued A LOT and were often very loud – doors slamming that sort of thing. I am glad I had my friends and they lived nearby because when things got rough I just got out of the way!”
“You don’t want to think that your parents might split up-even if you haven’t been getting on very well, and as time went on I did start to think that maybe if they just stopped shouting they might actually listen to each other and be able to work things out. When I said this to Mum she was really sad and realised how upsetting it must have been for me. I don’t think either of my parents had really given me much thought to be honest! They had been so busy yelling and arguing at each other that I didn’t seem that important.”
“I don’t know how I would have coped without my friends. They made me laugh; listened when I needed to talk about it and their parents fed me! Sometimes it felt like I didn’t really exist at home at all, but my friends were always there to make sure I was OK and distract me with anything from a chocolate bar to a DVD! I have a great group of friends – boys and girls – and lots of us have known each other since preschool so we go way back. I know I am very lucky to have some great people around me and when my parents did actually get divorced and my Dad moved out, they were all there to help me.”
“I think getting divorced was the best thing for Mum and Dad because they are really good friends now they don’t live together! It’s weird how things work out really and I see both of them a lot. We even go out together once a week and it’s great. My friends are still there – I think they always will be. They knew how I felt because they had been through the same experience and I am so grateful to them. I just hope that if the same thing happened to another friend I would be able to help them too. It’s true what they say – you really know who your friends are when things are bad.”