Support and Advice for Families

Reducing Parental Conflict - Information for Professionals

Offering support to families from any agency is likely to be ineffective where the conflict between parents is not acknowledged and addressed. You are probably aware of the importance of being vigilant for signs of domestic abuse, but what if the issue is more about frequent, intense and poorly resolved parental conflict.

We often find it uncomfortable to ask personal questions about relationships but there is increased evidence on the importance of the parental relationship to children’s outcomes. Whether the parents are together or separated, parental conflict can affect children’s emotional, behavioural, social and academic development. It is the conflict between parents, rather than the event of parental separation or divorce, that is a key factor in explaining why some children fare better than others when parental relationships breakdown.

Conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. However, when conflict is handled in a destructive rather than constructive way it can have negative consequences for parents and their children.

Parental conflict places children at risk of:

  • Poor relationships with staff and peers in school and their community leading to lower academic outcomes
  • Lower employability leading to financial difficulties and an increased risk of poverty
  • Earlier involvement with drug and alcohol misuse
  • Negative impact on neurobiological processes affecting emotional development and can lead to conduct disorder, poor attachment and risk-taking behaviours.
  • A range of health issues including sleep disorders, digestive problems, abdominal pains, fatigue, headaches and poor growth.
  • Poor mental health which carries on into adulthood.
  • Increased risk of poor adult relationships

We want practitioners to feel comfortable talking about family relationships so that families become more aware the impact their relationship has on their children. This will ensure that referrals are made to specialist services for support at an earlier stage and limit the negative impact on children and parents.

Watch this video to explain parental conflict, the impact on children and how local authorities can help.

So far on the Isle of Wight

We are working with partners on reducing parental conflict and supporting families earlier so conflict doesn’t lead to lasting damage for families. We have trained over 80 practitioners from a variety of organisations including a train the trainer programme and want to encourage anyone working with families to attend this free training.

In light of the current Coronovirus (COVID-19) situation, this training is more important than ever. Economic pressure and psychological distress are major factors associated with parental conflict.  As restrictions are eased and practitioners are going back into family homes again we need you to be mindful of the increased pressure on families at the moment. Some families will be struggling because they are having to spend more time at home together, there may be added financial pressures from job losses, reduced pay and concerns about how safe their job will be in the future. Their support networks may be limited, and they may feel more isolated causing anxiety that could impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

Some of these parents may have had their first baby during lockdown with limited support available particularly from family, friends and meeting new parents in groups. A time that we know puts increased pressure on any relationship. For help please view the Reducing Parental Conflict leaflet. 

This training looks deeper into this important family issue which impacts too many families on our Island. It empowers staff to recognise the signs and giving them the knowledge and tools to have a positive impact on these families.

Training dates

Reducing Parental Conflict Module 2 - Recognising and Supporting Parents in Parental Conflict: Applying knowledge, skills and techniques

 Code  Date  Time Venue
RPCM2 6 October 2020 13:30-17:00 Online - link will be sent by training provider
RPCM2 9 February 2021  9:30-13:00 Training room 1, Thompson House, Sandy Lane, Newport, PO30 3NA

Reducing Parental Conflict Module 3 - Working with Parents in Conflict: How do I support, refer or intervene?

Code  Date  Time Venue
RPCM3 5 November 2020 13:30-17:00 Online - link will be sent by training provider
RPCM3 10 March 2021 9:30-13:00 Training room 1, Thompson House, Sandy Lane, Newport, PO30 3NA

Bookings for internal staff via The Learning Hub:

External application forms on the internet: