Do's And Don'ts When Breaking-Up To Protect Your Children

The Do's And Don'ts Of Handling Your Break-Up To Protect Your Children

I tackle this tough topic for you

Sometimes it's helpful to look at celebrities as examples of what you should or shouldn't do.

If you're facing tough times get The Kids In The Middle booklet by phoning 0845 224 2009 or emailing


In the past when I saw that Britney Spears and Kevin Federline were appearing in court for another custody hearing I wanted to take them and shake some sense into them and tell them to put their children's needs before their own! Because they and any separating parents need to prevent their children feeling hurt and upset over their break-up.

Yes, their children are still very young but even very young children absorb emotional heartache between parents like a dry sponge. Grown-up children are also affected by their parents' divorce and previously when Lindsay Lohan’s parents were looking at divorce I could only hope that with her history of problems they would’ve thought about keeping their differences between themselves and not trying to get Lindsay to take sides.


Divorce Can Hurt Everyone

You see, divorce is a traumatic time for every member of a family. Much research shows that children have fewer problems when parents keep calm - or at least try to!


Sometimes younger children seem to do better because changes in your household up may not seem so obvious. For example, if they haven't seen daddy for a few days they may not even notice, particularly if he tends to work long hours. It's also sometimes easier to cover up your heartache from very young children because they accept at face value what you say. Let's say that they find you upset - you can get away with telling them a story liked you banged your toe and that's why you’re crying. With older children that won't wash!


Important Do's And Don'ts To Help You Through This Difficult Time

If you're going after a break-up and have children think about these -


Don't expect your children not to feel bad if you're feeling bad. Imagine how upset and angry you feel over your break-up. So think how they must - they expect you to protect them from the problems of the world but if you’re upset they feel they have no one looking after them emotionally.


Don't turn this into the end of the world! If you feel your world's fallen apart and let your children think that too, you’ll damage their well-being. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to tell them that, "Yes there will be changes but that but many things will stay the same." Avoid telling them things like you feel your world is going to fall apart. That's incredibly frightening for them.


Don't expect your children to prop you up emotionally. Your friends and family are there to do this. Many parents start relying on a little bit of happiness from their children when they should be providing their children with as much happiness as possible during a difficult time.


Do reassure your children that a break-up is not their fault. Pre-teens and teens can become very anxious that if they've been causing stresses and strains that this might’ve caused the breakdown. If they ask you this do to how your child clearly, and more than once, that a divorce is not their fault.


Do keep the lines of communication open and tell your child that they can ask you what ever they want, whenever they want.


Do give them age appropriate information. What you tell a 7-year-old may be different than what you tell your 17 year-old.


Don't shy away from their questions even if they seem to be difficult ones. If you answer with care and confidence then you'll generate a more confident feeling in them.


Don't criticise your ex-partner to your children no matter how much you feel like doing so. Even if your ex has done something that might impact in some way on your children (like become difficult over money) it will only make matters worse to criticise them. You may have angry and spiteful feelings to your ex but sharing those with your children will make them miserable.


Do let their school know that you're going through a break-up so that the school can help monitor your children's behaviour. Research shows that particularly the schoolwork of teenage boys suffers during a divorce. If a teacher can give you a heads-up that something’s wrong then you can act sooner rather than later to help your child adjust to the break-up.


Even if the break-up was over a third party don't throw your new boyfriend or girlfriend straight into the mix with your children. That's like exploding a nuclear bomb in a war zone - it’ll definitely make things worse. Bide your time before introducing someone new.


Don't let the break-up throw a big black cloud over your entire lives. Get your children out and about for some fun. Try to keep the routine as much as possible to what they know.


Finally, as everyone is affected by your break-up make sure every child feels that they're still valued and loved no matter what you’re personally going through.


A useful general contact is or 0808-800-2222


Get The Kids in the Middle advice booklet for separating parents from your GP or  health visitor


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