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Tips for helping your kids if you split up with your partner

It’s really tough when a relationship breaks down, even if you know that separation from your partner is the best thing for you and your children. But if you have kids together, it makes things even more complicated. There’s likely to be a lot of changes at the beginning. The important thing for you and your partner is to show your kids that you still love them and your relationship with them won’t change.

Here are a few tips to help make these changes smoother for children.

Tip #1: Talk together

If your relationship has broken down and you need to organise child arrangements, going to court isn’t the only way to decide who will look after the kids. In fact, only 5% of separations end up in court, with many people using mediation to agree what’s best through discussion.

Mediation is where you and your ex can agree childcare and separation arrangements with a mediator who guides you through the arrangements. It can be less stressful than having to go to the courts, which can make the separation easier for your kids.

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Tip #2: Kids first

Even though it’s a difficult time for you, remember that your kids should always come first. Always think about what is the best thing for them.

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Tip #3: Kids need reassurance

Some children can react badly when they’re told their parents are separating. It’s a big scary unknown for them, and they might even blame themselves or feel that they’re ‘not enough’ to keep their parents together. Try and offer reassurance and a shoulder to cry on when they want to talk about their feelings as they try and understand the news.

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Tip #4: Is it too late?

Have you tried speaking to someone about your relationship? Some people like to go to relationship therapy to see if there is a way to repair your relationship? Being in a relationship is not always easy, especially when you have kids to look after, so talking to someone who isn’t a family member or friend can help give you a new perspective and ideas that may help.

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Tip #5: Talking as a family

For some families, being able to talk about why the relationship has broken down can make it much easier for the kids to understand and accept. This can make it easier for them to cope in the long run. As a parent, agree together with your partner in advance what it is you want to say to your kids.

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Tip #6: Getting grandparents involved

Kids can sometimes find it hard to talk to you if you are going through a separation, in case they hurt you. Asking for a grandparent or aunt or uncle to speak with your children might allow them to open up to someone they care about.

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Tip #7: Work together

Just because you’re separating doesn’t mean that you can’t work together. As parents, you should work together to make the best decisions for your kids. Talk with each other about how you are going to tell the children about your decision to separate. Working as a team will also make it less stressful and easier for your kids to understand.

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Tip #8: Plan for success

Before you do anything, try and come up with a plan for what life will look like after the separation. Being able to offer a clear plan to your kids about what will happen afterwards will make it much easier for them to recover and allow them to accept the news.

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Tip #9: Look for support

There are lots of different organisations that could give you more advice about how you can go through a more positive separation.

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Last updated: 19 Dec, 2019