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A relationship breakup can be traumatic and unsettling. Keeping control of emotions and keeping connected for the children are critically important.

Relationships can be hard work

Maintaining a loving and close relationship takes energy and commitment and can be hard work sometimes. When lives are full of other obligations and responsibilities, partnerships might be the first thing to give way under the strain.

It takes communication, time, and 100 percent commitment from both partners for a relationship to be strong and lasting.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • How would you describe the relationship with your partner when you were together?
  • What do you think the contributing factors to the breakdown were?
  • What did you try to help keep your partnership going?

It’s never easy when a relationship ends, especially when the partners are parents. And if the split has been the decision of one partner alone, the other half may feel devastated and helpless.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What has been the most difficult part of the breakup for you?
  • Who are the people you trust and can talk to about what you need?

Grieving the loss

Finding yourself single can be similar to grieving the death of someone close. Even if the split has been agreed on, partners can be surprised at the level of emotion they feel.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • How have you been coping emotionally since the breakup?
  • Has there been anything specific that has helped you when you’re feeling low?
  • Have you talked to anyone about what you might need in terms of emotional support or counselling?
  • Would you like help to look at options available or some contact names for you to consider?

Staying in control of emotions

One of the most difficult things to do during a relationship breakdown is to keep emotions under control. If the breakup has been especially difficult, any interactions with the ex-partner can see emotions rising to a point that communicating positively seems impossible.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • Would you like us to talk through some of your feelings today?
  • Would it be helpful to have someone act as a go-between during meetings with your ex-partner?
  • Who might be able to help you work things through with your ex-partner?

Keeping connected

When one partner isn’t coping well with the split, they may feel like staying away completely. They may feel it’s the only way to stay calm or deal with their emotions. This might seem best in the short term, but long term, it isn’t good for them and especially for their tamariki.

If there have been issues around family violence and protection orders have been made, this can accentuate the problem of maintaining relationships with the kids.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What has your ex-partner shared about wanting to be with your tamariki?
  • How have they managed to keep connected with the kids?
  • What do you think could help you and your ex-partner to keep connected regularly with the children?
  • Shall we make some notes so you can review them later and add any other ideas that come up?

Other resources

Relationship break up | Ministry of Justice(external link)

Stress – The good, the bad and the ugly | Brainwave Trust(external link)

The good divorce – how to help children cope with a break up | RNZ(external link)

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Kōrero mai, e aroha ana koe ki ahau – tell me you love me

Six things children need – Te aroha me te mahana – love and warmth

Helpful resources for whānau