A relationship coming to an end can be painful, overwhelming and devastating. It can be difficult to know what to say or do whenever a loved one is going through a breakup. It can be even harder when the loved one going through that situation is your own father. Parents are usually the ones who are there for their child whenever they go through a difficult life situation, but in this scenario, the roles are reversed, and as their child you would like to know what to do to help your parent cope with the end of their relationship. You may need to take a different approach than what you would do if a friend is going through a breakup. Naturally, you still want to be there for your father, give him some support and perhaps a shoulder to lean on. Here are some tips of what you can do if you are currently in this situation:
- Let him know that you are there for him
This may be the simplest thing that you can do if your father is currently having a hard time coping with the end of his relationship. The presence of a loved one can be very comforting to someone who is going through a breakup. Your father may feel uncomfortable reaching out to you if he knows that you have a busy lifestyle. Send him a text to let him know you are there, or maybe ask if he would like to go out to dinner so that the two of you can spend some quality time together.
- Listen to him
Some people may feel better about themselves when they are offered the opportunity to talk to someone about how they are feeling. When offering your support by listening to your father, make sure that you validate his emotions and avoid minimizing what he is feeling. Use a non-judgemental tone of voice, and ask open-ended questions such as, “Can I help relieve your sadness in any way?” or “What is it that is bothering you the most about this situation?”
- Remind him to self-care
When someone is going through a difficult period in their life, they may start to neglect themselves, which in turn may have an even greater negative impact on their wellbeing. Reminding your father to take care of himself by doing things that help to make him feel good can be a great way to support him. Remind him to be kind to himself during this difficult time. This may include engaging in activities like going for a massage, a run, or whatever else his interests may be.
- Help him find professional support
Recovering from a breakup may look different for everyone. For some, it may take longer, particularly if they have been through other difficult life experiences. Perhaps some time has elapsed since your father went through his breakup, and you are concerned about the way that he is coping with this experience. If this is the case, you may want to suggest that he seeks professional support, such as a therapist, to talk about how he is feeling and process his emotions. You may offer your support by helping him a therapist that is suited for his needs.
- Take care of yourself through this process
Supporting a loved one who is going through a particularly difficult time can be a hard thing to do. As much as you want to be there for your father during this time, it is also important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself in the process, in order to avoid getting burnt out. This may look like: setting personal boundaries with how much you can give during this time, as well as enjoying some self-care activities of your own, such as therapy and making time for relaxation.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Pamela Borg is a counsellor who enjoys working therapeutically with adults experiencing various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing, gender, sexuality, relationship issues.
Strong, R. (2019). The 5 Best Texts To Send A Parent Who’s Going Through A Breakup. Retrieved from: https://www.elitedaily.com/p/if-your-parent-is-going-through-a-breakup-send-them-these-5-texts-18153633
Zencare. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://blog.zencare.co/how-to-help-friend-through-breakup/