Parental Separation

Parental Separation/Divorce

Many children live through family separation due to parental conflict.  It can be an extremely difficult time for children and young people whatever their age and developmental stage.

When separation and divorce happens for families there are many changes that occur for children.  Your child/children’s needs are of paramount importance.  Separation may mean children not seeing one parent on a regular basis, being exposed to arguments and adult conversations, losing the home they are used to, saying goodbye to pets, sometimes even belongings, changing schools and saying goodbye to friends. Coping with all this is not easy.

Many children blame themselves, they feel sad, guilty, angry and confused.  These feelings can lead to emotional and behaviour problems.   Some children experience anxiety, clinginess, difficulties in sleeping, defiance, and aggressive behaviour.

As a parent, you may also be dealing with very difficult feelings yourself.  Because of this it is sometimes hard to protect your children from these. It is important to appropriately express them and show them they are loved by both parents.  Give your children the opportunity to appropriately express their feelings also.

It is important not to argue in front of children.  Children need to be able to maintain a relationship with both parents.  Separation is an adult issue and it is not their fault.  Children should not be made to feel bad about missing the parent that no longer lives with them.  It is really important not to talk badly about or insult the absent parent – remember that person is ½ of what makes up your child and your child loves them.

It will be helpful for both parents to attend the Parenting through separation course.

If things are tricky, your child may need someone to talk to: 

A Grandparent, Aunty or Uncle

An independent safe family friend

Queenstown Lakes Family Centre

Family Court Counselling

Relationships Aotearoa


If you would like further support with any of the issues raised here please call 4414331 to make a referral.

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