Supporting healthy relationships among new 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 new parents can impact on parental conflict and in turn on child outcomes, how to effectively engage these parents, what evidence-based support can be offered, and how to appropriately assess progress for these families.

Although widely regarded as a rewarding and fulfilling experience, new parenthood is also fraught with significant psychological, social and relational changes to parents’ lives. Evidence from international studies, for instance, suggests that parenting stress during the prenatal period and the first few years after birth predicts depression and declining marriage satisfaction, which in turn were associated with increased parental conflict and lower co-parenting cooperation.

Despite this, there is currently limited data available on experiences of parental conflict among new parents and carers in the United Kingdom.

This guide has been developed for local leads, commissioners and practitioners to improve understanding of the factors that increase the risk of parental conflict among new parents, how to engage parents, what evidence-based support can be offered, and how to assess progress for these families.

The guide includes:

  • An overview of the research evidence of the factors that can increase the risk of parental conflict among new parents, and the impact of parental conflict on child outcomes.
  • Advice on how research evidence can be put into practice to inform your local strategy.
  • Recommendations on how to engage new parents based on discussions with a group of 11 experts from nine local areas.
  • A summary of eight evidence-based healthy relationship and parenting interventions that may be helpful as part of local support pathways for new parents.
  • A summary of measurement tools that can be used to measure parental conflict, parental stress and co-parenting with new parents.



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