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Strong relationships are vital to our mental wellbeing. People with healthy, positive and supportive relationships are more likely to be happier and healthier.

Creating and maintaining good connections with others can also help to combat loneliness and improve mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety.

two loverbirds with a plant in the middle of them

Reducing Parental Conflict is everyone’s business

Not all conflict is harmful, but it’s important to help families to think and talk about the quality of their relationships before they reach a crisis point that will impact children whether physically, socially or emotionally.

Children are the next generation of adults and we all want them to have healthy, happy, and successful relationships.

If you would like to access further information on RPC training and practice toolkit training, please contact our Healthy Relationships Co-ordinator: Michelle Lea on 07355 021 465 or email

Learn more about how to build and maintain healthy relationships, and deal with issues including stress and anxiety in relationships.

Healthy relationships

‘You know when you’re in a healthy relationship because you feel happy to see and spend time with certain people.’

They could be members of your family, your friends, your work mates or even a romantic partner.

No relationship is ever perfect, and you’ll have moments when minor disagreements will rise to the surface causing frustration with others.

This is all part of managing our relationships with people around us.

There are many factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of healthy relationships including:

  • Good communication

You and your partner can talk openly about things without feeling scared of what might happen or being judged for what you’ve said.

  • Mutual respect

You listen to each other and respect each other’s boundaries. And nobody does anything to make you feel uncomfortable, scared, or humiliated.

  • Trust

You can trust each other without getting jealous, including being able to spend time with other people.

  • Honesty

Being able to say what you think and feel without censoring yourself or worrying what might happen.

  • Equality

Nobody in a relationship should have power over the other person, and it’s never okay for someone to force you to do something.

  • Being yourself

You’re able to keep being yourself, doing things you enjoy and spending time with friends and family outside of the relationship.

Not only does building positive healthy relationships make us happier, improve our feelings of security, and provide meaning to our lives, but it also affects both mental and physical health. Health Benefits of Relationships: Relationships play an important role in our mental health.

For further information

Reducing parental conflict

“Relationships are difficult for everyone at some stage, especially parents or carers regardless of whether they are together or separated.”

What does ‘parental conflict’ mean?

All parents and carers sometimes argue with one another. Not all conflict is damaging but conflict between parents or carers can increase to a level that is not healthy for the family. This can happen for lots of reasons.

Parental conflict in relationships can occur in all types of families – between biological parents, stepparents, foster and adoptive parents, and grandparents – regardless of whether they are living together or separated.

Conflict can also occur when parents and carers are managing everyday stresses or worries such as financial issues, issues of trust and fidelity, parenting practices, or where there is stress or trauma in the family.

Stress does not just make conflict more likely, but it also makes us less able to manage conflict. When we are stressed, we are less able to think objectively and see things from another person’s point of view, and more likely to react in automatic, poorly thought through ways.

Parental conflict is very different to domestic abuse. No-one should ever make you feel threatened or unsafe; if this is the case there are many organisations and services that are there to support.

It is important as parents or carers to think and talk about the quality of our relationships, rather than the status of the relationship before we reach crisis point.

Do you recognise any of these in your relationship?

  • Are you arguing, having rows, shouting all the time with each other about things like, money, how you parent or housework?
  • Are you worried about splitting up? Or thinking splitting up is the answer?
  • Is there sulking, silent treatment, slamming doors or walking away from each other?
  • Are you anxious or worried and is this getting in the way of managing everyday life?
  • Are you not able to say sorry after an argument and move on?
  • Are you using hurtful texts, emails, or social media against each other?

Some parents or carers may find themselves stuck in a pattern of frequent and stressful conflict, and this can be difficult for everyone in the family.

It can be particularly upsetting and confusing for children and young people when their parents or carers argue, and they can often feel caught in the middle or in some way responsible for the conflict.

We know as a parent or carer, the last thing you want to do is harm your child in any way, but even indirect exposure to conflict that is frequent, intense and poorly resolved can, over time, have a serious negative impact on a child or young person’s wellbeing.

It can also damage the parent-child relationship as children often struggle with loyalty bonds and, for complex reasons, feel compelled to ‘pick a side’. This may be the case even if the parents are not actively trying to get the child on their side.

Some parents and carers may need help to manage stress and find new ways of communicating, in order to break the cycle of arguments and co-parent more effectively so that their children can feel happier.

Causes of parental conflict

Life is sometimes challenging and stressful, and all parents come under pressure from time to time. Families are most at risk of parental conflict during key life changes, such as separation, bereavement, new babies, or children starting school. This can lead to other worries such as financial, housing and health issues.

Remember, all good relationships must be worked on and develop and grow in stages.

Sometimes we need to take time to work out what works well for us and transfer this knowledge in other areas of our life. If we keep communication open and do this together with a sense of equality in our relationship, then our children will be happy will learn important tools for life.

The impact of conflict on children

When children see adults who shout, argue a lot, or ignore one another frequently or for long periods of time, it can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and on their mental and physical health, behaviour, academic achievements, and future relationships.

As adults we are role models for our children, so if we can remain calm and respectful while addressing any disagreements, it gives our children important life skills.

Ways to build healthy relationships with others

We need to work to build good relationships and keep them that way. Key ingredients to healthy relationships include respecting and supporting others, and having open and honest conversations.

Being able to speak openly about the way you are feeling and, in turn, listening to your partner, friend or family member can strengthen relationships, reduce relationship anxiety, and help to protect your mental wellbeing.

Healthy ways to communicate in relationships

Try to be an "active listener", which means repeating back to the person what they’ve said to you, or asking for more details if it’s not clear.

Active listening can help you to check you understand what someone is saying to you.

Making an effort to check in regularly can make it easier to manage challenges as they arise, rather than letting them build up.

Perhaps set aside a regular time to talk, or write down how you feel in a message or letter if it feels difficult to say out loud.

Tips on managing stress and anxiety in relationships

Life's challenges can affect our relationships, as difficult emotions build up sometimes and we get irritable, snappy or withdrawn.

If you are facing a challenging time, being open and honest can help you and everyone around you feel supported.

If you know someone who is going through a tough time, it can be hard or upsetting for you too – so it's important for you to support them in ways that also protect your mental wellbeing.

Here are 3 little things you can do to make sure you're taking care of yourself in your relationships.

Set boundaries

Think about what you feel able to help with. Try to stick with this – whether it's listening or offering practical help like doing the shopping.

Take time for ​​yourself

Find time to do something just for yourself. Try to focus on your own hobbies and interests.

Talk to someone you trust

Finding someone outside the relationship that you trust enough to confide in can really help.

Dealing with relationship conflicts

Disagreements are normal, but it can affect your mental wellbeing if an argument is not resolved.

If it's difficult to talk through an issue calmly, take time out and talk again when everyone involved is feeling calmer.

Questions to help manage conflict

Sometimes​, ​we ​have strong feelings about something, ​think we know what someone else thinks, or let our past ​​affect what is happening in the present​. It can help to take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What meaning have I given this situation?
  • Is there a difference between the facts and my opinion of this situation?
  • What advice would I give to somebody else in this position?
  • Is there another way to look at the argument? ​

Working through these questions with those involved might help everyone to understand each other better and explore ways to say or do things differently.

Leaving an​ ​​unhealthy ​relationship

It's​ ​OK to leave a relationship that does not feel right, or is having a negative impact on your​ mental health and wellbeing.

There are organisations that offer advice and support on dealing with the practical and financial issues of a break-up or separation, such as Citizen's Advice Bureau, if you need it..

If you are experiencing any kind of abuse in a relationship, there is support if you need help.

NHS: Getting help for domestic violence and abuse

Support for Separating/Separated Parents

Divorce and separation can be hard on families and if there are children involved, they can find themselves in the middle. It is a time when children need all the support they can get and when parents need to know their rights and the legal requirements for divorce/separation.

There are certain things you can do to make it easier for your children to cope with their parents divorcing or separating:

  • To remind a child or children that both of their parents love them
  • To always be honest when talking about the break-up and to always take into consideration a child or children’s age and therefore their understanding of the situation and what is going on around them
  • To avoid blaming anyone for the separation or divorce, something that often happens which can be very confusing for children
  • To keep to routines which includes making sure mealtimes and going to school are not disrupted
  • To let children, know that you are always there for them to talk and that it is perfectly okay for them to have feelings of anger, sad or confused
  • To listen to your child or children more that speaking to them and to answer any questions so that they know they can trust and rely on you. This in turn will help them open up to you when they feel they need to.

LGBTQIA+ relationships

If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community you may feel this affects the type of relationship challenges you experience, whether that's your relationship with yourself or with somebody else.

LGBT HERO has plenty of help, advice and further support for common relationship challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.



Many people find that Mediation is quicker, less stressful and less expensive than going to court, and in most cases the court will expect you to consider Mediation seriously before going to court.  A Mediator helps you and your ex-partner, without being on anyone’s ‘side’.

Mediation is free for people who qualify for Legal aid.  You can see if you qualify here. You can also search for Mediators that offer online services on the Family Mediation Council website.

If you have a safeguarding concern

Safeguarding children

The safety and welfare of children - or safeguarding - is everyone's business. You could be a neighbour, friend, parent, relative, childminder, teacher or doctor - or working for any organisation which has contact with children and young people.

Safeguarding means protecting children from physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. It also means helping children to grow up into confident, healthy and happy adults.

Most children generally enjoy a happy childhood experiences within their own family. Unfortunately for some, this is not the case. During difficult family times, everyone who knows the child must do the best they can to keep them safe and protect them from future harm.

If you would like more information on how to manage safeguarding concerns as a parent or carer, please visit Liverpool Safeguarding Children Partnership

Report a child at risk

If you are a member of the public and have a concern about a child please contact Careline on 0151 233 3700 or Merseyside Police on 0151 709 6010 or 999 in an emergency.

You should report your concerns if you feel that:

  • A child needs protection – if a child is suffering harm, neglect or abuse, we can investigate and act to protect them.
  • A family is under stress – we can offer support and advice and help families access support from other services.
  • A child is seriously ill or disabled – we can arrange an assessment of the child’s and families needs and provide support.

Safeguarding adults

Liverpool Safeguarding Adults Board aims to ensure all adults in the city live healthy, happy, fulfilling lives safe from abuse and neglect.

Working alongside local communities and partner organisations, LSAB aim to promote the health and wellbeing of our residents so they can live healthy, happy, fulfilling lives, have choice and control, safe from abuse and neglect.

The Care Act (2014) requires each local authority to set up a Safeguarding Adults Board. The main objective of the Board is to assure itself that local safeguarding arrangements and partners act to help and protect adults in its area who:

  • have needs for care and support
  • are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • as a result of those care and support needs, are unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of, abuse or neglect

Each Safeguarding Adults Board has three core duties. It must:

  • publish a strategic plan for each financial year
  • publish an annual report
  • conduct Safeguarding Adults Reviews

Report an adult at risk

If you need to report an urgent safeguarding concern and believe that an individual is at serious risk of harm which will require a response within 48 hours, please call Careline on 0151 233 3800.

How to get support

Liverpool Children’s Centres and the Early Help Service can offer advice and support to you to enable you to make positive changes for you and your family.
Further information please contact our healthy relationships co-ordinator