Harmony at Home
Reducing Parental Conflict in partnership with organisations from our multi-agency reference group.
Harmony at Home is Worcestershire’s approach to the Reducing Parental Conflict (RPC) initiative in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and organisations from our multi-agency Reference group.
Parental conflict, which can range from a lack of warmth and emotional distance, right through to swearing and shouting, is known to be a risk factor for poor child outcomes, particularly when conflict is frequent, intense and poorly resolved. There is growing understanding and awareness of the need to address and reduce parental conflict that sits below a domestic abuse or violence threshold.
Harmony at Home understands all relationships can experience challenges, difficulties and breakdown, especially with the pressures of being a parent.
Conflict is natural within relationships, these pages have been designed specifically to support families with advice, tips and information for parents and carers who may be together, separating, divorced or co-parenting.
How to argue better
Whether together or separated disagreements occur in most of our relationships; however, it is important to consider why and how often conflict occurs, the way disagreements are displayed and how it is resolved or dealt with.
What can cause parental conflict?
- parenting styles
- household chores or responsibilities
- financial pressures
- moving to a new house
- having a baby
- health conditions
- substance or alcohol misuse
- extended family
- hobbies and work commitments
Tips to resolve and manage conflict between parents and families:
- be aware of your emotions and actions
- think of it as resolving the conflict… not winning the argument
- clarify what it is you are disagreeing on
- identify a common goal, try and remain flexible and make compromises to help reach an outcome which works for both parents and the child or children
- listen to each point of view
Find support and resources:
- Healthy relationships questionnaire (PDF)
- National Family Mediation
- National Family Mediation - Struggling separating couples offered free video conference advice and support
- Resources for assessing harmful conflict - Cafcass - Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service
- Stronger Relationships courses
Family Mediation Service. Family mediation is a process in which an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you work out arrangements for children and finances following separation. FMC Registered Mediators have helped hundreds of thousands of families to agree on financial arrangements after separation, and to find a way to parent their children co-operatively after separation.
Between Us is an app designed to help you have a better relationship with your partner now or in the future. The app provides individuals and couples with:
- a range of exercises
Allows you to better understand what [could be] going wrong in your relationship and do something about it.
Families Need Fathers supports dads, mums and grandparents to have personal contact and meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation.
- Family Learning courses
- One-to-one Chat Facility for Parents
- Parenting Support from Action for Children
For more information please visit:
Co-parenting for separated parent carers
Co-parenting is the arrangement where two parents have an equal responsibility to continue working together on the upbringing of their child or children whilst play an active role in their daily lives.
Co-parenting isn’t always easy after relationship breakdown resulting in separation or divorce. The following links and information can offer you support, tips and skills on making co-parenting work, understanding the benefits this will have on your children and improving the relationship with your co parent.
Tips for co-parents:
- communicate as a team, understand and accept you will have disagreements
- define and manage the expectations of one another
- create a schedule or parenting plan to offer stability and consistency, however compromise and be flexible where other commitments such as work may arise
- avoid speaking poorly of your co-parent in front or around your child or children
- offer consistent agreed rules and routines across households
- understand your child or children’s needs come first
- set any anger, hurt or frustration aside
For more information and support please visit:
- Co-Parenting and Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents from HelpGuide
- Divorce and separation from Cafcass
- Parenting post-separation from Fegans
Are you in a position where your parents are splitting up? Please visit:
National Family Mediation Service
The National Family Mediation Service offers a Separated Parents Information Programme, offering advice and guidance on the challenges of post-separation parenting.
The programme is attended by a group of parents all in similar circumstances, experiencing divorce or separation. The programme broadly focuses on following three areas:
- the legal, financial and emotional process you will be experiencing
- understanding more about how your children may be responding to your separation or divorce
- improving communication with your ex-partner to help you with your future parenting
For more information please visit Separated Parents’ Information Programme from National Family Mediation Service.
Understand the theory
Conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. However, when conflict between parents is handled in destructive rather than constructive ways, it can have negative consequences both for parents and their children. It is important to acknowledge that children are vulnerable to the impact of conflict whether their parents are together, apart, or in the process of separation.
Parental conflict places children at risk of:
- negative peer relationships within their community and school; with both peers and school staff, affecting academic outcomes
- earlier involvement with drug or alcohol misuse
- poor future adult relationships
- future lower employability which can lead to financial difficulties
- increased risk of poor mental health in children, and into adulthood
- negative impact on neurobiological processes, which in turn affect children’s emotional development, leading to conduct disorder, poor attachment and risk-taking behaviours
- children are also at risk of a range of health difficulties including sleep disorders, digestive problems, abdominal pains, fatigue, headaches and reduced physical growth
Support documents for families
1. understand the theory behind conflict
2. download your Harmony at Home tools
(please use the Harmony at Home Planning Tool and Strengths based Questions as a framework for your work with families)
*With acknowledgement and thanks to parents and practitioners in Essex who originally co-produced this content.
3. sign up to our future training events
Please check back for further information.
4. find information and guidance to help you to help parents and families
5. find materials to use with parents and families
This section includes videos for helpful guidance and advice.
6. contact the team
7. The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF)
Have produced a new RPC resource after conducting focus groups on speaking with families about parental conflict. This has now been published on their website which you can view by clicking on this link: Talking with families about parental relationships: Practical tips and guiding question
Harmony at Home for professionals
This information has been co-produced with our partnership organisations specifically for practitioners working with parents in conflict.
Targeted specialist support for families whose parental relationship is in conflict
WCF have commissioned with the DWP Reducing Parental Conflict grant funding a targeted specialist service to work with parents whose parental relationship is in conflict (whether parenting together or apart). This is a 4 to 6 week programme for BOTH parents who have already completed the Harmony at home tools with a practitioner, AND whose relationship remains in conflict AND who wish for more specialist intervention.
Before referring a family please ensure you have read the criteria below, discussed it with both parents, and are clear this relationship is not domestic abuse, and both parents have committed to engage with the intervention
RPC criteria for referral for specialist service
- the family must have meaningfully engaged in an intervention prior to the referral for at least 4 weeks
- both parents must agree to the referral
- the family must reside in Worcestershire
- the child(ren) of the parents must be under the age 18 or (25 if have SEND)
- the relationship must have been identified as currently in conflict and not Domestic Abuse with no domestic abuse within the last 12 months
- the referrer must be able to continue to support the family whilst the specialist intervention takes place through learning shared by the specialist service to the referrer
- this will be through professional case discussions, which will take place whilst the specialist intervention is taking place
- the referrer should support the family to engage meaningfully with the specialist intervention
This service has limited capacity, therefore each referral will go through a panel process based on the criteria above. You will be informed if your referral has been accepted or returned with advice, within a month with relevant refers contacted by the specialist service if accepted.
Find materials to use with parents and families
- A Short Guide to Working with Co-Parents from Tavistock Relationships
- Brene Brown on Blame
- Brene Brown on Empathy
- Healthy relationships
- Health relationships questionnaire PDF
- Parent problem Checklist PDF from Tower Hamlets Council
- See it differently have produced four videos alongside the Good Things Foundation, which are designed to reduce parental conflict in front of children.
If you or a friend are suffering from domestic abuse please see links below for help that is available:
SafeLives ending domestic abuse # you are not alone
Safe Lives have all the domestic abuse resources in a one stop link:
SafeLives ending domestic abuse - Domestic abuse and COVID-19
Free phone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm)
In an emergency always dial 999
For more information about this service and further domestic abuse related information and services please visit the Worcestershire County Council Domestic abuse website.