15 Tips for Breaking Up With the Father of Your Child

Set a time and time limit, create a private space, and prepare what you will say in the breakup conversation. Set boundaries and be honest about why you are ending the relationship, but be considerate and gentle in your approach. Carefully involve and support your kids after the breakup.

If you’re reading this blog regarding how to break up with the father of your child, then I’m going to assume that you’ve already given it a LOT of thought and that you’re probably not going to change your mind and stay together.

So, I’m not here to convince you otherwise, but I am here to give you 15 helpful tips on how to break up with him in a civil manner. After all, you will still have to co-parent after the breakup. 

Breaking up with someone is not easy, let alone when you have children involved. Continue reading for a few helpful tips.

Depressed female looking at picture of her and ex-husband after breaking up with the father of her child

Choosing to Break Up With the Father of Your Child

I suspect you’ve suffered your fair share of sleepless nights. Breaking up, particularly when you have children together, is grueling and burdensome. Breaking up with the father of your child could be more painful than anticipated, even if you’ve been waiting to do it for a while.

The only situation where I would strongly suggest that you end the relationship sooner rather than later is if your partner is abusive towards you. Otherwise, neither I nor anyone else should be telling you if and when to break up with him.

However, before you consider ending your relationship, I assume you’ve made every effort to make the relationship work.

Ideally including the following aspects:

  • You have discussed your relationship problems with your partner.
  • You have made an effort to understand what is required to maintain a healthy relationship.
  • You have taken responsibility and dealt with your personal issues.
  • You have sought relationship advice, perhaps even individual or couples counselling.

If you are still unsure about ending your relationship, here is a helpful TED Talk explaining the difference between healthy and unhealthy love.

Katie Hood: The difference between healthy and unhealthy love | TED Talk

How to End a Relationship With The Father of Your Child

After reading this article, you’ll be well-prepared to break up with the father of your child. You’ll know when to have that heart-wrenching and challenging conversation, what to do and say, and what not to.

Strategies to Avoid When Breaking Up With the Father of Your Child

  1. Avoid putting off the breakup: Ending a long-term relationship isn’t going to get any easier whether you wait a week or month longer. There will never be a ‘good’ time to end a relationship.
  2. Do not deliberately make his life miserable: It is a cowardly way to opt-out by making his life as difficult as possible in the hope that he will end the relationship, for example, giving them the silent treatment.
  3. Do not avoid conversations about your relationship: your partner may suspect something isn’t right without knowing what’s really going on. If so, he might accuse you of being unfaithful. Rather than avoidance, openly talk about problems.
  4. Do not gaslight your partner: I can understand that you may be tempted to pack your bags and leave without a heads-up. However, this is beyond cruel. Do not make yourself unavailable by not answering calls either. That being said, be fair towards your partner by breaking up with him in person, not through a phone call or text message.
  5. Avoid discussing the breakup with others first: Do not tell your family and friends that you’re ending the relationship before discussing it with your partner. Instead, discuss it with him first, and then you can decide how to tell other people together.
  6. Avoid criticizing your partner: Only talk about specific behaviors that have led to the breakup. 
  7. Do not view your kids as an extension of their dad: The love you have for your kids should not be confused with the love you had for their father.

When to Break Up With the Father of Your Child

It is vital to give thought as to when to break up with your partner. The right time and place are crucial.

  • Set a time for the breakup conversation: Do not put the breakup off when you know it is over. It is easy to postpone the heart-wrenching discussion, but it doesn’t do either of you good. Instead, make sure to create time and an opportunity where you both have available time without any stressors or other immediate priorities. 
  • Create a private, undisturbed space: Be sure to have the conversation in a quiet, private place where your partner can voice in thoughts and feelings freely. As previously mentioned, if you are experiencing abuse these tips do not apply to you and you should immediately seek help from a women’s shelter or abuse hotline with regards to how to safely remove yourself and your children from this dangerous situation. 
  • Set a time limit: Create an opportunity to have an uninterrupted conversation for an hour or so. The breakup conversation may be shorter or take longer depending on what you choose to discuss. However, keep in mind, it’s important to cut straight to the point and, at the same time, to allow him to ask questions and to state his point of view.

What to Say and Do When Breaking Up With the Father of Your Child

Even if your partner suspects the breakup is coming, it remains important to have a carefully thought-through delivery. Being well-prepared will give you the confidence to go through with the separation.  

  1. Prepare what you are going to say. 
  2. Take your time to gently deliver your message – step by step, rather than blurting it out all at once.
  3. Be considerate: He may not have seen the breakup coming. Have empathy and compassion, and allow him to process the message.
  4. Be honest: Be open about why you are breaking up with him. Accept that your reasons are valid even if he and others may not agree.
  5. Stay calm: expect and prepare yourself for unexpected, uncalled-for reactions.
  6. Be clear about your decision: Make it clear that the breakup is permanent, and do not allow him to convince you to give him another chance.
  7. Set boundaries: Do not agree to continue to see each other one-on-one (for the time being at least). You need to create space and boundaries between the two of you to heal and move on for a couple of months. Your only interactions for the next little while should be regarding your children and co-parenting duties you share.
  8. Do not shout or blame shift, and avoid becoming defensive regardless of his reaction.
  9. Avoid using words like: “but,” “maybe,” “if you would only…”: utilizing these types of phrases make it seem like a meaningless cop-out, and he may try to persuade you to stay in the relationship by apologizing and making promises to change.
  10. Discuss the effects of your separation on your kids and find strategies that will accommodate you two and the kids.
  11. Make a breakup plan with your partner once his emotions have settled down: You and your partner need to create a plan moving forward concerning your children. Discuss details, including where the children will stay, how you will share the responsibilities, and how to talk to your children.
  12. Make peace with ending the relationship. Instead, accept what life has brought to you and move on.
  13. Find ways to relax and make peace as you embark on the process of healing and acceptance.
  14. Do not be the mother who can’t accept that things did not work with the father of your child. Instead, rise above the temptation to fight for the love already broken.
  15. Seek support if needed. Seeking a counselor or therapist does not make you weak. Seek help if you are struggling to deal with your emotions after the breakup.

Remember to Involve Your Child Positively

Ending a relationship with your partner when you have children is challenging and highly emotional. You have your own emotions to deal with as well the well-being and feelings of your child. 

  • Have the conversation together: Having both parents talk to the children will ensure that your children understand that you are both in agreement about the breakup, making the whole process less confusing and overwhelming.
  • Avoid going into messy detail about the breakup. Instead, focus on telling your children only the minimum and essential information. 
  • Let your children know that the breakup is not their fault.  You and the father should reassure your children that the separation has nothing to do with their behavior or actions.
  • Do not ever badmouth your partner to your children following the breakup. And ensure that your partner does the same. 

In Conclusion:

It’s worth making every effort to find an appropriate time and place to break up with the father of your child, as well as to think through your breakup strategy ahead of time. Finding the best way to handle the breakup will preserve your dignity and help you move forward.

Healthily involve your children by one discussing the minimal reasons for the breakup. Give your children constant reassurance and support immediately following the breakup as this time may be confusing and rattling to them too.

Lastly, remember that you are far stronger than you think! 

NOTE: If you are experiencing an abusive relationship. Please call a local Women’s Shelter or Abuse Hotline for advice on how to safely remove yourself from the situation, as many of these items will not be applicable or safe in your situation. For a list of domestic violence hotlines around the world, click here.