One in three parents of a child with a learning disability facing relationship pressure

Parents of a child with a learning disability are experiencing excessive pressure on their relationships, according to new research from charities Relate, Relationships Scotland and Mencap.

The report has found that one in three parents are in a relationship which could be described as ‘distressed’ in a counselling situation, compared with one in four parents in the general population.

The charity research also found that parents of a child with a learning disability are more likely to feel lonely, have less time for date nights and say that money worries have a negative impact on their relationship.

Over 5,000 people were questioned, including 280 parents of a child with a learning disability, to form the report, Under pressure: the relationships of UK parents who have a child with a learning disability.

Relate, Relationships Scotland and Mencap are now calling on better support for parents of children with learning disabilities, including short breaks services, improved childcare support and targeted relationship support. The charities say that these measures would reduce strain on parental relationships.

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of Relate, said: “We all face challenges in our relationships, but our research shows that parents who have a child with a learning disability face additional pressures. Unhappy relationships can have a terrible impact on couples and their children but it doesn’t have to be this way. At Relate, we know how counselling can benefit parents of children with a learning disability and we need to make sure it’s available, as part of a wider package of support, to families who need it.”

Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive of Mencap, said: “It is upsetting – but not surprising – to hear about the relationship pressures faced by parents of children with a learning disability, especially as Mencap’s own research** shows these strains are avoidable.”

You can read the report’s findings in full here.

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