Supporting healthy relationships among minority ethnic parents: A practical guide

Legacy Content

This project or publication was produced before or during the merger of What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).

This practical guide for local areas has been developed to improve understanding of how risk factors among minority ethnic families can impact on parental conflict and in turn on child outcomes, how to effectively engage with minority ethnic parents, what evidence-based support can be offered to minority ethnic families, and how to appropriately assess their progress.

Official data from 2018 shows that parental conflict is common among families in England, with almost one in every eight children in couple-parent families living with at least one parent who reports relationship distress. A strong body of evidence suggests that when parental conflict is frequent, intense, and poorly resolved it can put children’s mental health and long-term outcomes at risk.

Despite clear risks to children’s outcomes posed by unresolved parental conflict, there is currently very little data available on how many minority ethnic parents experience parental conflict in the UK. However, official data from England and Wales shows that, when compared with White families, some minority ethnic families are more likely to experience factors strongly linked to impaired parental relationships such as unemployment, economic pressure and poor mental health. Many of these factors which impact on parents’ relationships are in turn influenced by racial discrimination. Experiences of racism and discrimination shape the economic, environmental and psychosocial conditions that can support or constrain life chances for minority ethnic families, including opportunities to sustain healthy relationships.

This guide is intended to provide practical advice to local authorities taking part in the national Reducing Parental Conflict Programme and with an interest in improving their understanding, local offer and evaluation activity in relation to support for minority ethnic parents. The guide includes:

  • An overview of the research evidence and data on the impact of parental conflict on minority ethnic child outcomes, and of the factors that can increase the risk of parental conflict among minority ethnic families.
  • A section showing how research evidence can be put into practice to inform your local strategy.
  • A summary of recommendations on how to engage minority ethnic parents that have been developed in consultation with local experts.
  • A summary of evidence-based healthy relationship and parenting interventions that can be used with minority ethnic parents, and a discussion on how to ensure support is culturally appropriate.
  • A summary of measurement tools that can be used to measure parental conflict, co-parenting, and child outcomes with minority ethnic families.



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