Conflict in our relationships is something that we all experience at one time or another. Arguing with our partners, sniping at our in-laws. It’s normal... to an extent.
But when it’s frequent, repeated and ill-resolved it becomes something more detrimental; it starts to affect not only ourselves but those around us too.
Evidence shows that frequent parental conflict can affect children’s outcomes, leading to possible long-term mental health issues and negatively impacting on emotional, behavioural, social and academic development. It needn’t be show-stopping, full-volume fireworks for these effects to occur either. Even seemingly small behaviours like ignoring your partner during an argument or slamming a door in anger can take their toll over time.
Parents in families facing financial pressures through unemployment or health problems can be even more susceptible to sustained relationship conflict. Worries about money or childcare can compound daily pressures and make for a less harmonious family environment.
It’s important that children in these families don’t face additional challenges to the economic ones they’re already facing as they grow up. That’s why we’re really pleased to have been selected as one of the organisations funded in the DWP’s Reducing Parental Conflict challenge fund programme.
Over the next 12 months, our aim is to use the funding from this programme to build an intervention which helps parents reflect on their arguments and work through small changes that could make a big difference for themselves and for their children.
What this looks like we don’t yet know; one of the key tenets of our project is co-design with the people that this project aims to reach. We’ll be working hand-in-hand with parents from our target group to outline their needs, and build stories that will feel familiar and have a real impact.
Our challenge is multiple. We want to:
- reach people in the online spaces they already use
- find ways to deliver BMT through a digital storytelling approach
- maximise engagement with our target audience
- test the effectiveness of BMT delivered in this way
We know there are simple changes everyone can make to reduce conflict and have more constructive communication. Over the next 12 months we’re going to learn how to give people the tools to start to make those changes.