Advice: Will Her Son Cope?

Q&A with PT editor at large Hara Estroff Marano about the impact of a breakup on a child.

By PT Staff, published on November 1, 2003 - last reviewed on January 23, 2015

I have been separated from my husband for almost three years.
I have a boyfriend who has been a big part of my son’s life. My
boyfriend and I now realize that we don’t have the same long-term
goals and think it better to go our separate ways. I’m concerned
that my son will think that [leaving] is normal behavior for a

Brava for considering the ramifications of your actions on your
son. The truth is children take most of their cues on how to respond from
their parents. You’re in a terrific position to let him know the
truth—that this was a careful decision by two adults looking far
into the future and that it hurts now. Your son doesn’t need to
know any details—they only overwhelm children and make them
anxious. But he does need to know that you still think your ex-boyfriend
is a good person and that your ex-beau still likes him. Perhaps the two
of them can maintain a friendship.