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Couples in conflict – take action for your children’s sake!

1 July 2013

Couples in conflict – take action for your children’s sake!

If you are parents in conflict, you owe it to your children if not yourself, to sort it out, says Jacqui Akuhata-Brown, Chief Executive of Relationships Aotearoa.

“We know, from research, that the negative repercussions for children living in highly stressful environments – tension, conflict, abuse and/or violence – can last a lifetime if not addressed. These children struggle to succeed at school and beyond, and some go on to emulate the behaviour they grew up with.”

“I don’t think many people realise how critical these core family relationships are to our sense of self, our self esteem, and our capacity to function well in the world,” says Jacqui. “For most people, their family is where they learn who they are, how to love, how to behave, and how to relate to others. That early learning lays down a template for all later interactions.”

The good news is there is potential for change. Each year Relationships Aotearoa helps 30,000 people make positive changes in their lives through its counselling, family therapy, and group programmes.

The issues are diverse – anxiety, depression, grief and loss, teens pushing boundaries, conflicts with partners, separation, family friction and violence are the most common.

“Our counsellors are trained and experienced at working alongside individuals, couples and families. They’re not judgmental and they are confidential. They work with clients to pinpoint the challenges and tailor a plan of action. For most people, the process takes three to six one-hour sessions, with more complex issues taking the longer.”

For parents in conflict, the focus is on learning to listen, resolve differences constructively, face challenges together, and parent positively.

“If domestic violence is a factor, we help the abusive/violent partner break the cycle of violence and find new ways of behaving in his or her relationships, and help those affected by it heal from their experiences, learn how to keep themselves and their children (if any) safe, build self-esteem, and create a life free from violence.”

“There is often the assumption that if domestic violence is involved, the relationship should end,” says Jacqui. “We get calls, however, from people seeking our help with a partner’s behaviour, who want to stay in the relationship, but want the violence to end. In many cases we can establish safety, address the issue of violence, and assist the recovery of the relationships.”

Relationships Aotearoa also helps separating parents deal with their own issues and focus on the well-being of their children through our Family Court counselling and ‘Parenting through Separation’ programmes.

“By helping families provide safe, caring, loving, creative, and healthy environments for children to grow up in, we save ourselves a lot of social problems and give people the best chance to thrive.”

Note: In certain circumstances, Relationships Aotearoa may be able to provide family counselling/therapy free to clients.


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