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Parenting separately or alone

Being a single parent can be busy and difficult at times, as well as being fun and rewarding.  If you’ve separated from your partner, there are things you can do to make the process easier for your children.

It’s important to get support in difficult times:

  • Accept offers of help from an adult you trust.

  • Have a regular time when someone else cares for your child, to give you a chance to do something for yourself.

  • If you have trusted friends with children, take turns caring for each other’s children. This gives you both much needed time out.

  • Meet other parents in support or playgroups. Talk to your Plunket nurse about what is available in your area. Some areas also have groups for single parents.

  • If the other parent can’t be involved in the child’s life, choose a close friend or family member to give your child special attention and be a role model.

Separating from your partner

This will change your children’s behaviour. Your children may become withdrawn, clingy or have problems sleeping. They may return to earlier behaviours (for example, wetting their pants) or feel afraid, confused and angry.

To help, talk through this difficult process:

  • Talk with your child about how they are feeling.

  • Explain what is happening in a simple way

  • Answer their questions.

  • Have you and your ex-partner both talk with your child about the separation.

  • Tell them it is not their fault, and that you both still love them.

  • Avoid arguing with your ex-partner in front of them. This upsets children.

  • Avoid saying nasty things about your ex-partner to your child.

Plunket provides the Parenting Through Separation programme in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taupo District and the West Coast of the South Island. The programme helps parents support their children during a stressful and difficult time.

"Plunket has been my main support. I attend a young mothers’ group with other people in my situation." - Rhonda, Palmerston North

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