What is important for your children

What is important for your children when their family is going through separation.

Children need their parents in their lives, regardless of the issues in the parent’s relationship.
Children need to be kept safe and to be cared for. They also need their family and whānau.  Having grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends in their life is important.
Making sure children maintain relationships with both their parents and their family/whānau is important for their:

  • self esteem and mana
  • ability to adjust to your separation
  • emotional development
  • family relationships and whānaungatanga
  • ability to deal with difficult times.

Children are not able to see the situation in an adult way. They view the world from their own perspective because they don’t have the experience to see the bigger picture.
The best decisions for your children are where:

  • their parents and the important adults in their lives co-operate with each other
  • parents and children (when they are old enough to tell you what they think) work together to sort out how you will care for them in the future
  • agreement is reached without fighting and arguing
  • children are encouraged to talk about their feelings and be involved in the plans – this will help them adapt to their new lives
  • you both stick to what you agree but stay flexible and co-operate if something needs to be changed for your children’s sake
  • there are as few changes as possible to other parts of your children’s lives.
  • It is important that children keep seeing their other parent, if possible
  • Time not seeing one parent seems much longer for children, especially for children aged six or younger
  • even a short time without contact can be hard for children.

(Source:  Putting your Children First; Parents Guide to Separation, Ministry of Justice)

For more information about how to help your children while going through separation have a look on our Frequently Asked Questions or Information&Resources pages.