Healthy Parental Relationships

This webpage is for parent, co- parents and young people who might be experiencing distress in their relationship and want to reduce arguments in the household for the sake of their child’s wellbeing.

Whether you are together or separated, arguments between parents are a normal part of relationships. However, there is new evidence that shows they could have an impact on your child when they are frequent, intense, or unresolved.

What does a healthy parental relationship look like?

In October and November 2019, we asked parents in Northumberland what they think a healthy relationship looks like. This is what they said:

  • Parents talk and listen to each other
  • Equal partners share the responsibility and stress of being a parent, and have a positive parenting style
  • Have your own identity, as well as a shared one
  • ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way
  • If you are together, spend some quality time as a couple, and show your affection for one another
  • Have fun together as a whole family!
It’s normal to have some disagreements with our loved ones, but it’s important to think about how often they happen and how they are dealt with. Remember - parental conflict is very different to domestic abuse. No-one should ever make you feel threatened or unsafe; if this is the case there is information and support available to you.

We have also developed a Parental Relationship Scale with these parents. This can help you to see the differences between parental conflict and domestic abuse.

Please click here to view our Northumberland Parental Relationship Scale

Impact upon children

The Early Intervention Foundation reports that the impact of parental conflict on children can have both immediate and long-term effects, including:

  • Behavioural difficulties
  • Symptoms of withdrawal, sadness, and shyness
  • Effects on different physical responses in the body which manage stress
  • Academic problems
  • Long-term problems such as;
    • Less likely to get a job
    • Health-harming behaviours such as drug or alcohol use
Please click here for more information

What we’re doing in Northumberland

  • Raising awareness of the impact of parental relationships on children
  • Ensuring that children and family services are able to recognise early signs of distress
  • Getting people talking about parental conflict
  • Ensuring that people understand the difference between conflict and domestic abuse
To view the latest HPR Briefing for Northumberland, please click here

Who else can help?


Call 999 if you, or someone you know is in immediate danger.

For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support. 

Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.

Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.

You can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline 24/7 by calling 0808 200 0247. They can offer advice and guidance and find refuge if necessary.

Families want their children to have happy and healthy childhoods but sometimes they need more support to do this. We all have a duty to protect children and this section will help you to access support if you are concerned that a child or young person is at risk of harm. 

How do I get referred for specialist support?

You may already be working with a:

  • family support worker in school
  • school nurse
  • health visitor
  • early help family worker
  • children’s centre worker
  • social worker
  • service in the voluntary and community sector

If this is the case, you can ask them to help you through the process and direct them to this webpage for further guidance. You’ll need to be in contact with that person throughout the programme, although the level of involvement you have with them will vary.

If you aren’t working with anybody at the moment, you can make a self-referral by accessing the Early Help Support Request.

Please click here to make a self-referral

PLEASE NOTE: For this programme, both parents/carers, whether together or separated, need to be willing to take part in order for the programme to go ahead. As one grandparent said: 'it needs two people who are committed to making a change.'

Remember, one or both parents can complete the free online resources if you would prefer this option.


  • Children are taught about relationships in the classroom
  • Counselling services are available at most schools
  • Some schools have Emotional Literacy Support Assistants 
Please click here for more information about PSHE taught in schools.


Family Support and Early Help

  • Early Help Services including Children’s Centres
  • If you are working with a social worker
Please click here for more information about children’s services in Northumberland.


Health Services

  • GPs
  • Midwives
  • Health visitors
  • Public Health school nurses


Statutory Services

  • Police
  • Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)
Please click here for more information about CAFCASS.


Local Family Offer

Please click here for services for children and families with special educational needs.


Voluntary Sector

  • Relate is a service which specialises in providing relationship support
Please click here to visit Relate.
  • Action for Children is a charity which protects children and young people, ensuring their voices are heard during difficult times in their lives
Please click here for the Action for Children website.
  • Our Domestic Abuse advice page outlines regional support for victims, and practical, safe advice for anyone who wishes to flee an abusive relationship
  • You can leave our Domestic Abuse advice page at any time, using the ‘HIDE THIS PAGE NOW’ button 
Please click here to visit our Domestic Abuse advice page.
Find our newsletters highlighting referral & success stories.
Here we answer your FAQs about our specialist relationship programmes:

Who runs the specialist relationship programmes?

Relationship specialists Relate and the Action for Children charity.


Who is this programme suitable for?

This service is suitable for:

  • any parents, carers, or guardians who have a child aged 0-18
  • any parents, carers, or guardians who have a child with special educational needs or disability (SEND) aged 0-25
  • parents who are are expecting their first child
Parents, carers and guardians can be together or separated as long as at least one parent is living in the Northumberland area. Both parents must want to be involved with the programme.


How quickly can I access this service?

If you are being referred onto a programme, the professional you are working with will ask you both to complete a Relationship Scales Questionnaire. This will ask you to think about your relationship.

The completed questionnaires will be sent to our centralised team (or Gateway) to be assessed. This is to ensure that you are placed on the most appropriate programme.

You should be allocated a programme, Relate worker, and start date within 10 working days. Somebody from the service will be in contact with you throughout the process.


Is there a cost?

No, the programmes are free and will be held near where you live, or in your own home (if appropriate).  There is also help with travel costs and childcare if necessary.


What does it mean for me?

All of the programmes available will allow both of you to discuss your feelings and emotions about any conflict in a non-confrontational way. This will help you to develop communication strategies and explore the impact on yourselves and your children.


What are the interventions?

There are four programmes available, including:

  • Parenting Under Pressure
  • Incredible Years Advanced
  • Parents Plus (Parenting when Separated)
  • Family Check Up
These programmes are classified as either high or medium intensity.

PLEASE NOTE: You, nor the professional helping you through the process, can select which programme is right for you. This will be decided through the Gateway assessment of your completed Relationship Scales Questionnaire.


Who will see my information?

We will use the information you give us to decide the best way in which to support you, and help you to address your relationship difficulties.

We will also use your information to measure how effective the programme has been for you, and how well you feel you have been supported. We will share this information with the programme evaluators, IFF Research, and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.

Please click here to find out more about IFF Research.

Please click here to find out more about the Tavistock Institute.

Tavistock now have an app for Relationship App for Couples called Between, click here to find out more.

The results of the research are expected to form part of a research publication. Individuals will not be identified in the research. The data will be kept by DWP until 2025.

To find out more about how we use personal information, and your information rights (including how to request a copy of your information), please click the links below: