Why Parents Take Their Child’s Breakups So Hard and What They Can Do

If you find yourself sad or heartbroken following your son or daughter’s breakup, you aren’t alone. Many parents sometimes find themselves just as upset or even more brokenhearted than their child who is going through the breakup.

Parent’s are sad after their child ends a relationship because they feel pain when their child is in pain, they got attached to their child’s partner, and the dreams they had for their child’s future are now changed. Let’s take a look at the reasons parents are so affected by these breakups and what they can do about it.

Breakups Affect More People Than Just the Couple

The pain of a breakup isn’t felt only by the couple who breaks up. It can affect their friends and family too. Have you heard the song “More Hearts Than Mine” by Ingrid Andress? The lyrics touch on this subject perfectly:

“If I bring you home to mama

I guess I’d better warn ya

She falls in love a little faster than I do

And my dad will check your tires

Pour you whiskey over ice and

Take you fishing but pretend that he don’t like you

Oh, if we break up, I’ll be fine

But you’ll be breaking more hearts than mine

My sister’s gonna ask a million questions

Say anything she can to turn you red

And when you meet my high school friends

They’ll buy you drinks and fill you in

On all the crazy nights I can’t outlive”

Everyone in the social circle of your child gets affected by the start and end of their relationship. First, they meet the new partner. Then over time they build a relationship with them. If your son or daughter ends up breaking up with that person, they are just gone out of your life. The parents usually don’t get any closure.

Reasons Why Your Son or Daughter’s Breakup Is So Hard For You

There are several reasons that you feel sad after your child’s breakup. Let’s look at some of the major causes so you can identify the source of your feelings.

You Feel Your Child’s Pain

One of the hardest things for a parent is to see their son or daughter suffering. So, when your child is feeling pain while going through a breakup, you are going to feel their pain right along with them. It’s the same as when it hurt you to see them cry after a fall. Or when they weren’t feeling well, as a young child.

Annie Reneau refers to this phenomena as parental empathy. Which she describes as “the second-hand feelings you experience when your child is sad, hurting, frustrated, or afraid”. Your children are individuals and their experiences are unique to them. However, what they go through can still affect their parents who are forced to sit back and watch their lives play out.

You Got Attached to Their Partner

You likely spent some time around your child’s partner while they were dating. If it was for a long period of time, you probably spent a lot of time with them and created many memories together. This can make it really hard for them to just disappear out of your life when the relationship comes to an end.

When someone is around your family for long enough and is well-liked, they end up feeling like part of the family. You start to care for them through spending time together and knowing what’s going on in their life. If you get really attached to your son or daughter’s partner, it can hurt deeply when they aren’t around anymore.

You Had a Vision of Your Child’s Future

If the relationship was serious you probably saw your child with this person in the future. You might have envisioned them getting married, having kids, coming along on family vacations, etc. Maybe they even got engaged or did have kids together. Although their lives weren’t directly related to you, their future together had some effect on yours and it can hurt when that changes.

It’s not uncommon for you to want certain things for your children. Many parents would love to see their kids grow up, meet the person of their dreams, start a family, and reach their goals. When you see your child get close to that and then get it taken away, it can be hard for you to watch.

parents sad their child didn't marry their partner

It Brings Up Your Own Emotional Relationship History

Another reason you could be hurting when your son or daughter goes through a breakup is that it makes you relive some of your own history. If you were abandoned or mistreated in any way in one of your past relationships, the horrible feelings you felt back then can be triggered when you see someone close to you going through the same things.

It can be hard to separate your feelings from the situation if it brings up bad memories or feelings for you. Since your children are an extension of you, it can feel like you’re going through all of these things all over again and that can make an impact on your life.

parent sad after son or daughter's breakup

Things to Remember When You’re Sad Over Your Son or Daughter’s Breakup

Although it’s perfectly fine and normal for you to feel sad, upset, and even heartbroken over your child’s relationship ending, it’s not okay for you to make it about yourself. Regardless of whether your child was dumped or if they did the breaking up with, they are most likely going through a lot of their own pain and emotions.

You can feel your feelings without it negatively impacting them. The most important thing for you to do is to remain supportive of your child. Here are some things to remember when you’re feeling sad over the end of your child’s relationship:

  • Don’t focus on your own feelings about the breakup.
  • It’s not fair to guilt your child over the breakup.
  • You are not in control over your child’s life and their relationships.
  • Don’t offer advice unless they ask for it.
  • Focus on supporting your son or daughter through this.
  • Don’t compare their future partners to this partner.
  • It’s not fair to push your child to reconcile with their partner.
  • You might not get the closure that you feel you need and you’ll have to be okay with that.

FAQ for Taking Your Child’s Breakup Hard

Why am I sad over my daughter’s breakup?

You might be sad over your daughter’s breakup because you see her going through pain, you were attached to her partner, you had a vision for her future, or the breakup is bringing up your own painful relationship history.

How do I deal with my child’s breakup?

The best way to deal with your child’s breakup is to remain supportive of them. You can feel your own emotions without making the situation about yourself or negatively impacting your child.

How do I stop myself from feeling sad over my son’s breakup?

There is no right or wrong answer for this question. You might try to focus on supporting your son, understanding your own emotions, and thinking positively about the future. These 50 Positive Breakup Affirmations to Help You Heal may help you start to feel better.

What should I do if I’m feeling overwhelmed by my child’s breakup?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your child’s breakup, try to take some time for yourself. You can also reach out to a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your emotions in a healthy way.


There are many reasons you might feel sad over your child’s breakup. These include seeing them hurt, losing their partner that you were attached to, seeing their future change, and reliving things from your own hurtful past. Regardless of why you are feeling upset over the breakup, it’s important to be there for your child and offer your support without pressuring them.

If you are having an unusually hard time getting over their breakup, it might be best to speak with a counselor to help you manage your emotions so that it doesn’t impact your child. Seeing your son or daughter go through a breakup can be really devastating. However, it is probable that you’ll see it happen a few times before they meet the right person

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