Little empirical research exists on children whose mothers are incarcerated. We examined Dutch children's experiences regarding their mother's incarceration, using a mixed methods approach. We found that, although children stay in various care-giving situations, a large proportion of them were already living apart from their mothers when maternal incarceration started. The children report elevated levels of problem behaviour and decreased well-being. There is evidence that these may also be due to the negative life events they experienced before their mother's incarceration. Recommendations for future research are discussed. © The Author(s) 2011.