Enhancing relationships has always been a core component of Race Equality Foundation’s ‘Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities’ (SFSC) parenting programme.
Whether parents and other main adult carers live together or apart, evidence shows the benefit to children of ‘parenting partnerships’ being strong. Happy, secure adults have more energy and positivity to give and to model to their children.
Emerging research has also shown that conflict between main carers, which sits below the level of domestic abuse and can be verbal and non- verbal, can be very harmful to children’s development. This type of conflict does not show itself as easily and is harmful when it is ‘frequent, intense and poorly resolved’.
Race Equality Foundation has been working with the Department of Work and Pensions in their ‘reducing parental conflict programme’. In particular, we have looked at how Black, Asian and minority ethnic co- parents cope with the stresses of family life, together with the intersections of intergenerational racism and factors like poverty, poor health and disability. We have created a supplement to the programme drawing on our experience of developing our SFSC parenting programme to inform, support and empower co-parents and other main adult carers to communicate more positively and reduce the frequency and intensity of ‘harmful conflict’
We are now delivering the ‘parental conflict’ supplement to our 13 week SFSC programme to groups of parents in the London borough of Waltham Forest. This has been made available to all parents and co-parents, irrespective of their living situations. Having delivered SFSC in the borough since 2017, we have been able to draw on established links with professionals working with families, local schools and delivery venues as well as faith and community organisations. Being seen as a ‘trusted brand’ has ensured good levels of referrals to groups and excellent engagement with parents.
We are also working with parents of children aged 0 to 5 in the neighbouring borough of Barking and Dagenham. This new project will support families during a crucial period: expectant and new parents face many challenges, with research showing that 67 per cent of new parents report a sharp drop in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of a child’s life.
During these unprecedented times when financial distress is a pressure that many communities face, we hope that the SFSC programme delivery in these boroughs will offer a sense of community and support.