When families split-up

When a relationship ends, both parents can feel angry, hurt and guilty. It is a very difficult time and it's important to take good care of yourself and your children. It can help to talk about what is happening to you with friends and whānau.

Children respond in different ways when their parents separate. For example, their reaction can depend on their age, how much conflict they saw and the type of relationship they have with each parent. For some children separation can come as a relief. Others may be angry, fearful and uncertain about what will happen next. Listen to your children and let them know you love them. Be honest about why you separated. Make it clear your issues are not their fault. Let them know that there is professional support available to them if they'd like it.

Remember that while your personal relationship has ended, your parenting relationship continues. Talk with your ex-partner about how your children will be cared for day-to-day. 

If you are unable to talk reasonably with your partner there are other options available such as free counselling from the Family Court.

Helpful tips

  • No matter how angry you are, take care not to take it out on, or through, your children
  • Ask for help early — it will be better for you and your children will cope more easily
  • Some details are best not shared with children
  • Give children space and time to sort out their feelings and reassure them that it wasn't their fault
  • Encourage joint parenting
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