Healthy Parental Relationships

Northumberland County Council are determined to work well with parents, helping them reduce arguments in the household for the sake of their child’s wellbeing.

The last several weeks have been really difficult for most people as we have learned to adapt to a new way of life. This time can place significant pressure on relationships with our partners, especially if the relationship was in distress to begin with.

Below are some resources that are free to access and might help you and your partner to navigate the issues you are facing:

Online courses for parents:

Me, You and Baby Too:
  • This is aimed at expectant or new parents, but this is just as helpful for those of use with older children, especially during COVID-19. We know that having a baby is one of the biggest life changes we can go through. We will be tired and stressed, and we may argue more.
  • The videos help us learn to argue better so that we can sort things out and move on together. They teach us why stress should be a shared burden.
  • It can also be accessed through the baby buddy app - see ‘You and your partner’.
Free online parenting course from UK Charity Family Links, and hosted by Netmums:
  • This is an eight-session email course that guides you through different parenting topics and situations, helping you become a more confident parent. Many of the tips and skills can be applied to all relationships.​
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.

Relationships Matter

Northumberland is part of a national programme called Reducing Parental Conflict. In the North East, this programme is referred to as Relationships Matter. This provides support for parents, and those working with families, to help create healthier parental relationships.

Practitioners - please click here to visit the Relationships Matter website

Please click here for our Relationships Matter leaflet


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!
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;
    • Lower employability
    • Health-harming behaviours such as substance abuse
Please click here for more information about the Early Intervention Foundation


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
If you think that you need some help with your relationship, you can use the following resources for free:


How do I get referred for additional 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 to the Early Help Hubs by accessing the Locality Hub Referral form.

Please click here to make a self-referral to the Early Help Hubs

PLEASE NOTE: 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.'


  • 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
Please click here for more information about health services.


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.
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.

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: