Parenting through separation

Joanne Te Paiho, March 2011

Tena Koutou. I realise that this is a topic that I have previously covered, but I want to revisit it today as I feel it is such an important issue. Parenting Through Separation.

When couples have decided that their relationship is no longer working for them, and they go their separate way, what might be happening for the little people in all of this? Who looks out for them and considers their emotional responses to this major life change. These little people still need both their parents to remain active in their lives, so how might you ensure that this happens.

I guess the first step is to remember that as hard as all this is for you as the adult, it may be even harder for your children to comprehend or make sense of what's happening to their whanau unit. It's important to sit down and talk with them, as honestly as you are able to, about the changes ahead and reinforcing to them, that you both still love them and that they haven't done anything wrong. Often children can feel as though they did something that caused the breakup.

The key throughout this time will be the importance of positive communication and letting your young people know that you are there for them. If you are the parent that will be taking the sole role of the children make sure that you keep talking to them and don't shut them out. They will need your constant reassurance that you will always be there and that you won't leave the whanau unit, as their other parent has. Do your best to keep routines generally the same, as one upheaval is enough for them to cope with, without trying to manage other changes. Routine will help them to feel a sense of security, during this time.

If you are the Parent who has moved out of the home, it's still really important that you maintain and continue the relationship you have with your children. It is at this time, that if you are unable to arrange this with your ex partner, you seek support and advice around how you might do this. Here at Parentline, we can support you through this.

It's also really important to realise that you may all be experiencing a sense of grief around the loss of the whanau unit. The young people will feel a loss around the parent that has moved out and this may be expressed with anger and tears and times of having low moods. If you are concerned about your own wellbeing through this time or the wellbeing of your young person, I'd encourage you to give us a call, on 355 1655 and together we can work through what support we can offer you all.

One more really important gem I'd like to leave to the Parents out there who are going through this challenging and emotional journey is to look after yourselves in all of this. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and eating well and it's really important that you have plenty of support around you during the low times. If you are able to keep well you will be in better shape to parent from your wise and well place, which is so essential for your children during this time.

Ka Kite Jo