Family problems

In an ideal world our families should be the place we feel safe and secure, and where we learn about having good relationships with people. But sadly parents, carers, relatives and siblings, may not always behave in a way that makes us feel happy and cared-for.

Parent’s divorce or separation

When parents are no longer happy together and decide to separate or divorce, it can feel scary and sad and you may become very anxious about your own future, while your parents seem too preoccupied to help you.

One worry might be what will happen to you in the future, where you will live or how much you will get to see both sides of your family.

Although it might seem difficult, it could help to talk to one or both of your parents or carers. Divorce or separation is hard on everyone and perhaps they have not realised how much it upsets you.

Mental illness or addiction

Sometimes parents or carers have mental health problems – depression, stress, drug or alcohol abuse – of their own and as a result cannot care properly for your emotional needs.

This can make you feel sad, angry or neglected. If you feel this way try and talk to a trusted adult or ring one of the helplines listed at the end of this section. You have to let someone know so you and your parents or carers can get help.


At worst, a person supposedly caring for you and protecting you may abuse you so that you feel a painful mix of anger, fear and self-loathing.

Child abuse can mean a lot of different things such as neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse – it’s not always easy to know if you or someone you know is being abused. But the important thing to remember is that no-one has the right to hurt you or make you do anything that feels wrong.

Please remember – if you or someone you know is being abused in any way, then the most important thing to do is talk to someone about it. Read more in our abuse section.


It is completely normal to go through a lot of different emotions when you have family or relationship problems. You might feel fine one minute and then really low the next. Some of the feelings that you might go through are feeling:

  • Scared or anxious
  • Sad or depressed
  • Angry
  • Guilty
  • Rejected
  • Insecure

Bottling up these feelings won’t do you any good. You could try talking to someone you trust. Maybe a friend or relative has gone through something similar and could help you?

Compiled from and