New book examines long-term effects of conflict between parents on children

Parental conflict can have lasting psychological effects on children

A new book co-authored by University of Sussex Professor Gordon Harold provides crucial new evidence on how conflict between parents affects children’s psychological development.

The book, Parental conflict: Outcomes and interventions for children and families1 is aimed at all professionals working with children and families where inter-parental conflict is a common feature of family life.

Drawing on state-of-the-art science and evidence-based practices developed nationally and internationally over the past decade, Parental Conflict provides a road-map to understanding how the complexities of modern family life transfer effects to children, and what can be done to improve individual, economic, health, and educational outcomes.

The book represents a unique partnership linking the implementation of scientific research to family focused practice-policy contexts.

Professor Harold and co-authors  Jenny Reynolds, Catherine Houlston and Lester Coleman from the charity OnePlusOne address why some children are more negatively affected by inter-parental conflict than others, what can be done to improve psychological outcomes in the short and long-term, and how early identification and management of negative behaviour patterns in families can prevent escalations and alleviate psychological distress and later psychological damage to children.

Professor Harold says: “Today’s children are tomorrow’s parents. The psychological fall-out from unhappy homes can lead to negative behaviour repeating itself down the generations. Effective intervention, can help to break that cycle.”


Notes for Editors

1Parental conflict: Outcomes and interventions for children and families by Jenny Reynolds, Catherine Houlston, Lester Coleman and Gordon Harold is published by Policy Press on 31 January 2014 price £16.99. It can be ordered at 20% discount from the Policy Press website. Media enquiries to Jessica Miles, Marketing Executive, Policy Press:

Professor Gordon Harold is Andrew and Virginia Rudd Chair in Psychology and Director of the Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice at the University of Sussex. Professor Harold is an internationally renowned expert in child development and the role of the family in children’s psychological development.

The Rudd Centre aims to develop new insights into the social, psychological, and community-based processes that play a role in the development of children and young people across multiple family contexts. It will draw on recent advances in developmental science, psychology, social work, law and education to inform our knowledge of how separation, institutionalisation, foster-care, adoption, maltreatment and other family-based processes influence children’s development.  A unique initiative in the UK, the Rudd Centre is directed towards advancing scientific knowledge, practice improvements and policy development around vulnerable children and families.

Policy Press  is a leading social science publisher based at the University of Bristol, UK and is committed to publishing books that make a difference.

OnePlusOne is an organisation that creates resources that help families and frontline workers tackle relationship issues early.

Last updated: Monday, 27 January 2014