7 mistakes separated parents make with their kids

Separation can be a very difficult time for families, especially when there are children involved.

Emotional upheaval combined with practical changes to routine and living arrangements can often be overwhelming for separating parents and it can be hard to know the best way to behave to help your kids to cope.

Navigating the pitfalls

Being mindful of some of the pitfalls people face in this challenging situation is a good start if you are going through a separation or divorce yourself.

Here is our list of the top seven mistakes separated parents make with their kids:

Mistake No. 1

Failing to tell your children about the impending separation/divorce. This may lead to children imagining the very worst about their parents’ relationship and what will happen to them.


Mistake No.2

Neglecting to reassure children that they were not to blame for the break-up.


Mistake No. 3

Bickering in the children’s hearing. Children may respond to the fears and anxiety that this causes by becoming difficult, shy, morose or angry.


Mistake No. 4

Speaking contemptuously of the absent partner. Telling children, “Your father is a slob”, or “Your mother is a fool”, has a devastating effect on children.


Mistake No. 5

Using your children for your own ends by asking them to spy on the other parent, or using them as post-boxes and sending messages to the other parent through them.


Mistake No. 6

Encouraging children to take sides with you against the other parent, or telling them, “I still love him, but he doesn’t love me”, or “I want to keep the house for you kids, but she wants to sell it”.


Mistake No. 7

Abruptly upsetting the children’s routine by moving house and school. The shock of separation/divorce is lessened for youngsters who continue to live in the same house and attend the same school. If this is not possible, talk to the children about what is going to happen.

At Relationships Australia NSW, we offer a range of post-separation services to help families and their children through the process of divorce and separation. 

For more information on how to support your children during a divorce or separation, download our free e-book "What about the Children?"

Download free e-book

You can also speak to us about the post separation services we offer on 1300 364 277.