Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Moving House

Hi Sam,
My parents have been separated for about six years now and we have an arrangement that I have to stay at each of my parents' houses for a week and then go and stay at the other's, so I'm at my dad's for a week, then I'm at my mum's for a week etc. etc.
I really hate this arrangement as it means I have to move all my stuff from one house to another, this also means that I can't take some of my things because they're too big or heavy. It completely messes up my social arrangements too because my mum lives quite far away from all my friends and the city centre.
I'm sick of constantly uprooting everything just so my parents don't have to see each other, I think it's a very selfish and childish way to behave. I want to say something, I've wanted to say something for a while but I was only eight when they made the initial arrangement so I didn't really understand what it would mean.
I feel I'm being treated very unfairly but I don't want to hurt their feelings by confronting them so suddenly. How can I tell them how I feel without upsetting them?
Thanks, F.
Ask Sam


Hi there

Thanks for your letter.

I can hear that the arrangement for seeing your parents has left you feeling frustrated. When parents split up, the family has to make choices about what will be best for the children. Often it can be a really tough choice. It seems like your parents felt a good way around this is to split the time you spend with each of them. You were much younger when this choice was made and it seems as you've grown older and gained independence, you are finding splitting the time equally doesn’t feel right.
Being honest about how you feel can really help. You've said you don't want to confront your parents suddenly so it might help to plan how you will talk to them. As well as thinking about what you will say, you can plan for their responses.

It's not clear from your letter how your parents get on with each other, or how well you get on with them. These factors may change how you decide to go about talking to them. If they are happy about meeting up at the same time, it might be a good idea to have some ground rules so that everyone agrees on what can or can’t be said.

If your parents don't get on well enough to be in the same room, it might be a better option to speak to them individually. You could do this face to face with them, or you could even send an email if you prefer. You could email each of them and ask them to discuss it with you in more detail, or ask them to email their response if this feels easier.

When you say they are being childish and selfish, it sounds like you feel that the arrangement works better for them than it does for you. It must be frustrating as you have to keep taking things between the two houses and the situation can make it harder to see your friends. You can read more about family relationships here - this page could give you some more ideas about how to talk to your parents.

When preparing what you will say, you could have a think about what outcome you would like. How would this work practically and how might this impact both of your parents? Sometimes it can help to talk through what you might say with someone else. You can talk to a ChildLine counsellor and they will support you more.

Take care,


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter