In North Yorkshire we are committed to supporting families to build strong relationships for the sake of their children.
Relationships really matter and when parents get on, their children do better. Parents and other caring adults are hugely important to their children, and when those adults are able to effectively communicate and cooperate, it can have a positive impact on a child’s life.
Impact on Children
If children and young people are exposed to poor or distressed relationships around them, it can have a negative impact on all aspects of their life. Their schoolwork, their health, their wellbeing and their relationships with other people, including you, their parents may suffer.
One North Yorkshire mum shared how conflict with her ex-partner impacted on her relationship with her daughter “It took me a while to realise that every time I criticised her dad it just made her like me a bit less”
Having a distressed relationship with your child’s other parent may also impact on the way we parent. Our parenting may be harsher or more unpredictable if we are distracted by the arguments or tension with our child’s other parent.
Watch this short video where we hear from children why parental relationships matter to them.
What sort of behaviours are harmful?
Whether we are together, separated or divorced we may all have arguments or disagree sometimes. But if we are having conflict which is frequent and intense it can be harmful to both children and to us as adults. All couples and co-parents may experience challenges in their relationships but when that conflict is poorly resolved and we don’t find solutions it can be damaging. Parental conflict may include regular bickering, arguing, micro-managing issues such as contact, lack of positive communication, name-calling and point-scoring.
Parental conflict is not the same as Domestic Abuse. It does not involve coercive control, emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse and does not involve either party feeling fearful of the other. Parental conflict is when you struggle to get on without disagreeing but that the relationship is an equal one.
If you feel your relationship may be abusive, if you feel scared or that you are being controlled, visit https://idas.org.uk/get-help-now/ or call 03000 110 110 or 999 if you are in immediate danger.
Tips for building Stronger Relationships
No relationship is perfect and you don’t have to start agreeing about everything. Instead what we ask is that you start to think about what your relationship looks like and feels like through your child’s eyes.
Children don’t have to see or hear arguments to know they are happening. Children will sense arguments and hostility and may feel guilty, think it’s their fault and worry about what might happen. Children can feel caught up in the middle of conflict even if we aren’t arguing in front of them. They pick up more than we realise.
If you can commit to improving communication with your child’s other parent and putting your child first you can make a real difference.
Try to avoid
- Getting defensive
- Bringing up issues from the past over and over again
- Avoiding talking about problems that need addressing
- Criticism / name calling
- Talking over one another
- Using the child as a messenger, or as a spy or a judge and encouraging them to take sides
- Sharing too much information with the child about the relationship issues.
Instead try to:
Listen to what the other person is saying
Think about what your child needs
Explain what you need without blame
Seek advice from a neutral person
Choosing a time to talk when you both feel calm
This video shows examples of harmful and helpful ways of dealing with a stressful situation:
There are more videos and tips at https://www.seeitdifferently.org/
What causes conflict in relationships?
The normal pressures of busy family life can pile on the stress and trigger arguments and conflict. Typically arguments might include things like
- Working hours
- House work / household tasks
- How we parent the children
- What other family members think / say
- Lack of intimacy and time as a couple
- Arrival of a new baby
- Lack of sleep
- Dealing with own / children’s / family members health needs
These are just examples. Every family is different but these things can happen to anyone. It can be easy to let unhelpful conflict behaviours sneak in and become normal in our relationships. They can soon become a habit. So as well as learning healthy relationship habits, it’s also important to get support around the issues which are causing the stress.
Getting Support to Build Stronger Relationships
You can speak to a professional you trust such as your Health Visitor, Midwife, GP or family Support Worker.
One Plus One digital resources
Parents in North Yorkshire can also access digital support packages free of charge. These interactive resources have been produced by One Plus One and offer you a step by step guide to relationships. There are three available.
Me, You and Baby Too
– for new and expectant parents
Me, You and Baby Too is packed with videos and animations to help couples navigate the transition to parenthood. Becoming parents can change your relationship. Tiredness and stress associated with parenthood can lead to you and your partner misunderstanding each other. This online course, available for free to parents in North Yorkshire can help you improve communication skills and manage conflict better. https://www.oneplusone.org.uk/parents
– for couples who want to improve how they communicate
Knowing how to argue in a constructive way can make all the difference to your relationships and to your children. Learn more with this online course currently available at no cost to residents in North Yorkshire https://www.oneplusone.org.uk/parents
Getting it Right for Children
– for separated or separating parents
Separating can be difficult for everyone involved. This course helps parents develop effective ways to co-operate after separation.
When parents separate, it’s easy for children to get caught in the middle of their disagreements. Getting it Right for Children is a free online course for parents in North Yorkshire designed to help them parent co-operatively after parting. https://www.oneplusone.org.uk/parents
Relationships Matter – national support for couples / co-parents
These websites also contain useful information and tips for dealing with the ups and downs of relationships and family life.
Download a copy of our leaflet here