Keeping the conversation going even when it’s hard

Be flexible and supportive when a family struggles to engage with whānau supporters. Open a conversation to suggest ways of enjoying baby.

Recognising when help is needed

For a variety of different reasons, there will be families that will struggle to engage with helpers. Negative responses to greetings or questions may signal that their life is challenging them.

An unexpected crisis, ongoing ill health (mental or physical), untreated addictions, or exhaustion from sickness or unsettled nights with their young children can all affect their ability to enjoy their parenting.

In this situation, try to be flexible and responsive – firstly, to help them understand their feelings or situation better and secondly, to understand what impact it may be having on their children.

Long-term parental depression or ongoing alcohol or drug misuse can have devastating effects on children’s development.

Opening a supportive conversation

Acknowledging their struggle, noting what they say, and reflecting it back to them using their words will show that you’re listening.

Ask whānau:

  • How have things been going with baby since my last visit?

If the response is negative, acknowledge that caring for a baby is a big job, and it can be a stressful one too.

  • What ways have you found to make it easier?
  • Would you like us to talk about things that can help?

Here are some ideas you can share with whānau:

  • Sometimes it may be as easy as just ignoring the negative stuff for a moment and having a cuddle with baby.
  • Take time to hold baby, look at them and talk to them.
  • It helps to have a few songs and games that you enjoy together, that you know baby will love doing with you.
  • Playing and singing with baby can work magic. It’s good for baby and it’ll help you too.
  • Let’s learn a new game or song together now.

Helpful resources for whānau