chinese family

Sarah Ingram leads the ‘Building Relationships for Stronger Families’ programme for Tavistock Relationships. Here she blogs about what we can learn from China as we face more weeks of uncertainty.


Sarah Ingram, Lead, Building Relationships for Stronger Families with Tavistock Relationships

Lockdown has taken away our daily structure and routine and put families together with no opportunity for separation, and no certainty as to when these circumstances will change.

Fracture lines are inevitable but the chance to work through these problems – outside the home, with friends or other loved ones - has been taken away. On top of this we are all coping with anxieties around health, money and relatives.

As a result of the pandemic, higher divorce rates are being reported in China, but research from the Nantung Municipal Health Committee offers some hope. Entitled ‘What to do when the family fire ignites during the epidemic’, this research demonstrates very clearly that listening and affirmation can be a release, and that having the support of a professional has a positive impact. More people have sought professional couple therapy and psychological support in China in recent months and it has worked.

During this pandemic Tavistock Relationships has moved all therapy online, including a free programme of support funded by the Department of Work and Pensions for parents in London and the surrounding counties. It considers the impact on children of the relationship between parents and offers strategies to move forward, including developing skills to help manage stress and proactive strategies for respectful talking and listening.

Parenting can be tough at the best of times, but right now this support is proving particularly useful for couples – both together and separated.

General advice can be difficult to give as individual circumstances vary so much, which is why our programmes are tailored to individual needs. However, at the moment we are all facing some common factors, so I can offer these three key tips:

1. Check in with each other daily – even if you’re separated. Make sure you are both OK and talk about your plans for yourselves and the children each day.

2. Alleviate your own anxieties – perhaps by talking to a friend or going for a walk – so that you are strong and resilient enough to cope with everything else.

3. Be extra tolerant of everyone around you and relax some boundaries.

You can apply for our totally free ‘Building Relationships for Stronger Families’ programme directly on our website or by giving us a call on 020 7380 1960. Once registered you’ll be sent a form to fill in and then we’ll be in touch to set up online sessions which work around your work and parenting commitments