Talking about relationships may not be easy, but it’s always worth the effort

Family relationships charity Fastn today (Monday, May 10) urged schools, parents, and community leaders to work together during the pandemic recovery to better support children to experience the positive relationships that will set them up for life.

The charity’s new guide for parents offers them Top Tips on starting conversations with children about their feelings and the kind of healthy dependable relationships that support positive life ambitions.

Since September 2020, Relationships, sex, and health education (RSHE, also called PSHE) has been statutory in all secondary schools in England. Parents can ask to see their child’s school policy, curriculum or lesson materials, but many find engaging with the topic difficult.  Broadly, statutory Relationships and sex education teaches about families of all kinds, healthy and safe friendships on, and offline, and sexual relationships.

The emphasis throughout is on mutual respect, honesty, consent, and responsibility.

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Family relationships charity Fastn has produced this brand-new guide to support parents to start the conversation with their child. Talking to your child about dependable relationships offers seven ‘top tips’ for parents including modelling behaviour, being honest, keeping conversations light, and listening without judging.

It recognises the serious impact that the pandemic has had on children and teenagers including missing out on face-to-face contacts with friends and family, that is now being seen reflected on rising incidences of mental health issues.

The resource has been shared with Mental Health Foundation’s Peer Education Project schools, and uploaded onto the subscriber section of the project platform.

Ruth Simmonds, from the Mental Health Foundation, said:

‘As we are emerging from the pandemic, we are beginning to understand the toll it’s had on our children and young people's mental health. The disruption to their lives and their relationships will continue to affect them long after the pandemic is over.

‘It is vital we give parents and caregivers the tools to support conversations with their children around feelings, emotions, and relationships. We have shared this guide with the 120 schools taking part in our Peer Education Project, encouraging schools to disseminate it to parents and caregivers.’

John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, said:

‘We warmly welcomed the move from the Department for Education to formally require schools to consult with parents over the teaching of RSHE. Outcomes for children are best when schools and parents work in close partnership, and our research has shown parents becoming ever more actively engaged in education and increasingly confident in supporting their child's learning.

‘We strongly support Fastn's call for schools and parents to use this time as we emerge from the pandemic to work together on RSHE. Their document 'Talking to your child about dependable relationships' is an indispensable guide to ensuring these conversations can take place and are productive."

Fastn chief executive Catherine Hine says:

‘It’s never too early to consider what works for us in our relationships – even young children can talk about how friendships make them feel. Some teenagers may already be in a romantic relationship that they feel committed to; others may be questioning a friendship or starting work relationships.

‘What matters is that young people get the chance to see, experience and talk about healthy, dependable relationships.

‘If a young person doesn’t feel they are safe and loved, have positive relationships role models, or doesn’t fit the media stereotypes, not only might

they question, but their brain may restrict their ability to form such relationships as they get older. Of course, In reality, there is no one “normal” or “ideal” relationship, and no single right way for a relationship to be, but there are essential aspects of safe, healthy and dependable relationships which young people can recognise, consider and value for themselves.’

You can download the guide here.