This tip sheet is also available in Arabic.
Relationship breakdown can be one of the most difficult periods in a person’s life. It is often a time when you may experience confusion, sadness and anger with high levels of conflict. For some, these emotions can continue for a period of time, while for others, an acceptance that the relationship has ended occurs very quickly and the healing process commences. Sadly, our children can be the ones most impacted by the end of a relationship.
Children react to separation in different ways. The way your children will react depends on many factors including:
These tips are designed to help separating couples to minimise any impact on their children. While you may cease to be a partner, you never cease to be a parent.
Children feel powerless and insecure. The grieving process children go through when their parents separate is often quite different to adults. They may feel:
Try to discuss these questions with your children. It might help you to see things from their perspective and provide some focus for you in dealing with the end of your relationship. For more information and tools to help your children during this time, contact MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.
Characterised by high conflict, these parents tend to focus on the wrong-doings of their partner, and rarely talk except in anger. They do not want to see each other and avoid contact as much as possible. They often need a third party (lawyer, mediator or child) to settle disagreements.
These relationships can often result in children feeling abandoned, compelled to choose sides, or be the mediator.
Characterised by partners that are able to make joint decisions about their children, these partners keep any conflict separate from their interactions with their children. This parental relationship is designed to minimise adverse emotional effects on children while allowing them to have their own individual relationship with each parent.
Many couples will float between both of these characterisations. Additionally, one parent may be attempting to be cooperative whilst the other is combative. If you find yourself in a situation where the other person is not working with you around the children, try to not let this impact on your children.