Voices of Children show importance of couple communication

A year ago, Tavistock Relationships, the internationally renowned charity providing couple therapy, received funding from BBC Children in Need to deliver an innovative three-year programme of therapeutic support to separated parents, where their conflict is affecting the mental health of their child.

The project also includes a peer monitoring programme for small groups of young people aged 11-18 years, run by Fitzrovia Youth in Action.

Richard Meier, policy and projects manager at Tavistock Relationships, explains:

“We know that inter-parental conflict damages children and the coronavirus pandemic has increased inter-parental conflict, with the workload of the family courts growing.

“‘Family relationships’ are consistently in the top three reasons why children contact ChildLine3, and are also the most commonly cited presenting problem in young people’s mental health services4.

“We applaud BBC Children in Need for having the courage and insight to fund our innovative project which aims to help separated parents to develop a better co-parenting relationship in the interests of their children, and for children to enjoy improved mental health and wellbeing as a result of being able to share and explore their feelings with other young people going through similar experiences.”

To highlight the 2020 Children in Need Appeal on 13 November, the young people involved in the project have put together a video https://youtu.be/Z0_AtFFoxZc featuring the following advice for separated parents who are experiencing difficulties in communicating and co-parenting:

1. Be in the same room

Kids want their parents to be in the same room to address their issues and to be able to co-parent efficiently. Not being in the same room puts your child in an uncomfortable and unfair position.

2. Don’t speak badly of the other parent

Children don’t want to be put in the middle of your arguments. It is unfair and unkind to expect your child to listen to you speak badly of their parent – they do not want to have to defend you to another parent.

3. Communicate with your child

When parents break up, children are affected and many feel as if it’s their fault. Speak to your child, remind them that you love them, reassure them that it’s not their fault and most importantly, listen to their feelings.

4. Get help for yourself

Young people understand that a break up is difficult for their parents and they want you find the kind of help you need - whether it’s a local support group, therapy or couple counselling.

For more information about the wider work that Tavistock Relationships is supporting to reduce inter-parental conflict and the damage to children, go to https://tavistockrelationships.ac.uk/policy-research/appg/1334-sort-it-out-campaign


For more press information contact:

John Fenna, Head of Marketing & Communications T: 020 7380 1974 jfenna@TavistockRelationships.org

Paula Scott, PR consultant T: 07932 740221 paula@limegreencommunications.co.uk

Debbie Walker, PR Consultant T: 077486 40577 walker.debbie@sky.com

Notes to Editors

Established in 1948, Tavistock Relationships is a registered charity internationally renowned for delivering and developing advanced practice, training and research in therapeutic and psycho-educational approaches to supporting couples. www.tavistockrelationships.org

Fitzrovia Youth in Action is Camden’s leading youth action charity. It empowers Camden’s young people to create positive change in their community and in their lives. www.fya.org.uk/


1. Harold G, Acquah D, Sellers R, and Chowdry H (2016) What works to enhance inter-parental relationships and improve outcomes for children? DWP ad hoc research report no. 32. London: DWP. 2. Cafcass public law data https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/about-cafcass/research-and-data/public-law-data/

3. https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/childline-annual-review

4. In a sample of over 42,000 children being seen across 75 young people’s IAPT services, family relationships was cited by professionals in 52% of cases. Wolpert, M. (2017) Outcomes for children and young people seen in specialist mental health services.