The Evidence Portal

Strengthen parent relationships

Flexible activity

In this activity, staff work with parents to resolve conflict and to improve communication with important people in their lives (e.g. co-parents, grandparents). Parents are taught different strategies to enhance communication, to identify and resolve past issues, and to ensure they don’t become problems again.

Strengthening these relationships can ensure parents have someone to lean on for support when they need it. Strong inter-parental relationships can also have a positive impact of child wellbeing and development. 

How can it be implemented?

This activity can be built into existing home visits or it could be delivered via group sessions. You should use your professional judgement to determine what is most appropriate for your client/s.  

Home visits:

  • Sessions can be conducted as part of existing home visits with individual families. 
  • Home visitors bring parents and grandparents together to discuss and resolve conflict.
  • Home visits are typically conducted weekly for 1-2hrs. 
  • Home visits can also be supplemented with telephone calls to ensure contact with the family is maintained.
  • Families can be provided with workbooks that also supplement the training in home visits. 

Group sessions:

  • Group sessions are weekly and last 1-2hrs. Groups consist of 8-10 people or 4-6 couples. 
  • Each session includes a combination of educational material, exercises, videos, and discussions in various formats (i.e., large group, small group, couples or co-parents, individuals).
  • Groups can be led by male-female pairs.

What should I consider when working with Aboriginal people and communities?

Understanding structures and concepts that exist in Aboriginal families and communities is important in building relationships. Aboriginal people have strong family values. The family system has an extended family structure, as opposed to the nuclear or immediate family structure which is common in Western society (DCJ Practice Resource: Working with Aboriginal People) .

See the Cultural Safety and Wellbeing Evidence Review for further guidance on how to deliver culturally safe services and improve outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • Couples living together, over 18 and expecting their first child
  • Parents on methadone maintenance and had children aged between 2 and 8 years.
  • Parents with two or more risk factors for child maltreatment

What programs conduct this activity?

  • The Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program helped teenage mothers identify and resolve sources of interpersonal conflict with their own mothers and with the father of their baby.
  • The Parents Under Pressure program includes a module that aims to improve effective communication between partners and to identify past unproductive relationship patterns. It seeks to address issues around communication skills in inter-parental relationships.
  • In the New Zealand Early start Program, home visitors work with parents to reduce partner violence and conflict and improve partner relationships. 
  • The Supporting Fathers Involvement program strengthens the relationships between fathers and their co-parenting partners. 2-hour group sessions are conducted over 16 weeks.
  • In Level 5 of the Triple P program parents are taught different strategies to enhance partner support and communication.

What else should I consider?

Additional support may be needed were family and domestic violence is present. Workers should have adequate support and qualifications to address these issues (e.g. social work qualifications).

Further resources

Last updated:

25 Nov 2022

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

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