Press Release | One-Parent families now five times more likely than two-parent households to live in consistent poverty according to new Survey on Income and Living Conditions

One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – reacted with alarm at the latest figures from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). The report shows that one-parent families are now five times as likely  to live in consistent poverty than two-parent households; this is an increase in the ratio from 2016 when the gap was four times as likely to live in consistent poverty. The report also shows that lone parents have the lowest disposable income and highest deprivation and at risk of poverty rates of all households with children in the State.

In 2017, individuals living in households where there was one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 20.7% which is a decrease of 2.5% from 2016.This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 3.9% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are five times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “SILC results reflect and amplify what we keep saying. People parenting alone tell us through our askonefamily helpline and our mentoring, counselling, education and other support services, that they live in constant fear on the knife edge of poverty. While there were a number of welcome measures in Budget 2019 this unacceptably high poverty and deprivation rates for one-parent families continues. There are real families behind these figures and lone parents and their children are tired of waiting.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “Lone parents are still struggling to meet the costs of living for themselves and their children. This includes the basics such as housing, food, heating and clothes. This is unacceptable and should not be normalised. More needs to be done to ensure that the government commitment to lift 95,000 children out of consistent poverty remains at the top of the political agenda. Increased access to education, affordable and accessible childcare and long-term housing solutions are needed now to reverse these unacceptable trends.”

One in four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty.


About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish. It is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (

SILC 2017 results can be viewed here.

One Family’s pre-budget submission can be read here.

For further information, visit

We need your help…particularly Dads parenting alone or sharing parenting!

We need help…particularly from Dads parenting alone or sharing parenting. We represent and support all one-parent families. To help us be the best we can, we are asking you to take part in a quick, completely anonymous survey. It will take no more than 8-10 minutes to complete and will help us serve the needs of all one-parent families into the future. Thank you to everyone who has already completed the survey and if you know of anyone parenting alone or sharing parenting who might be interested in completely it please share. Thanks from all at One Family

Please click on the link below to complete the survey :

Fond farewell to the Chair of our Board Dr Anne-Marie McGauran

On Wednesday 24 October we bid a fond farewell to the Chair of our Board Dr Anne-Marie McGauran. Anne-Marie has been a Board member since 2001 and played a pivotal role in the success of One Family over that period. She is unique amongst our ‘Boardies’ as she held the roles of Company Secretary, Treasurer and for the past year, Chair.  A passionate advocate of one-parent families, Anne- Marie used her social policy expertise to oversee One Family and our clients through some of the darkest periods in our history including the financial crisis and the savage 2012 budget cuts.
We are particularly grateful for Anne-Marie’s diligence, leadership and expertise on the Governance Code as she steered us to full compliance at a very early stage. We wish Anne-Marie well, thank her and her family for all the time she spent with us and we hugely appreciate her leadership, expertise, commitment and compassion to the organisation and the families we support and represent. We look forward to welcoming our new Chair, Sinéad Gibney who will lead the development of our next 3 year strategy. Sinéad is a former service user of One Family, inaugural Director of the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission and a consultant trainer.

Press release | Budget 2019 is last opportunity for Government to deliver on 2020 child poverty commitments

One week out from Budget 2019 leading national charities call on Government to ensure child poverty target will be decisively acted on.

(Dublin 2 Oct 2018) Today in Dublin a group of leading national charities has said that time is running out for the Government to deliver on its 2020 child poverty commitments. Barnardos, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Early Childhood Ireland, One Family and St Vincent de Paul have come together to remind Government about commitments made in the national strategy for children and young people: Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 and to offer advice on key actions that must be taken now.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said, “It is crucial that Government targets supports to Ireland’s poorest children who are primarily living in one-parent families. The way to combat this is with targeted supports such as the full restoration of the income disregard for lone parents in receipt of social welfare payments to what they were before cuts in Budget 2012 and to target the poorest children by increasing the portion of a social welfare payment for children again in this budget.”

June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy said “Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and enabling children to reach their potential. Budget 2019 must see significant investment in our education system so all children can fully participate, without schools being forced to ask parents for funds and parents aren’t continuously overburdened by school costs which disproportionately affect children from low income families”.

Caroline Fahey, SVP Head of Social Justice said, “Almost 4,000 children in Ireland are homeless, with many others living in insecure, poor quality and overcrowded accommodation due to the high cost of rents and the shortage of social housing.  Increasing the supply of housing provided by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies would offer families the security of an affordable long-term home, protecting children from the risk of homelessness and allowing families to plan for the future.”

Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland “Access to quality early childhood education and care is tremendously beneficial for all children, yet some very vulnerable children are at risk of missing out on this opportunity due to proposed rules. It is imperative that these children are not left behind in Budget 2019. We call on Government to put in place a mechanism to identify these vulnerable children, and to allocate robust funding for targeted subsidies to safeguard both their rights and those of their families.”

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said: We know that children are going to bed hungry and that 25% of children under eight years old are overweight or obese.  This is a public health crisis. We need to see leadership from the highest levels of Government to ensure that nutritious meals are made available and easily accessible for children living in poverty particularly those suffering with chronic health issues and struggling to concentrate in school.”

She continued, “Healthcare can be hugely expensive for families living on low incomes. The income thresholds for the Medical Card have not been revised since 2005, leaving many children and families unable to access healthcare. With access to free GP cards now a long term objective for the Government, it is crucial that we consider other measures to provide adequate healthcare to the families.”

Labour market skills gap could be filled by lone parents

New future beckons for lone parents as return to work programme records over 70% success rate


(Dublin, Thursday 6 September 2018) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – has said that lone parents could fill the skills gap in the labour market if the Government were to provide targeted supports to parents. The call comes as the charity launched its annual review for 2017 which shows that, to-date,over 70% of graduates who completed the ESF funded ‘New Futures’, ‘Options’, ‘New Steps’ and ‘Pathway’ programmes are now in employment or education.

Speaking at One Family’s Annual Graduation event, One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “The long-term unemployment rate fell from 3.2 per cent of the labour force last year to 2 per cent today. This means the traditional pool of unemployed workers to grow our workforce is also drying up.There is an easily accessible solution available for the Government – lone parents. Many lone parents have been hampered in returning to the workforce by a lack of childcare, difficult relationships, court battles and an overly complex and punitive social welfare system.

“Our programmes show how targeted supports, such as specialist bridging programmes,can support parents on social welfare out of poverty and back to education and ultimately the work force. These parents are full of potential, hugely resilient, adaptable and committed and with adequate supports such as childcare and a more compassionate court and social welfare system they could help to reduce the skills shortage in the labour market.If Government is serious about lifting 100,000 children out of poverty in Ireland they need to start with children living in one-parent families and really support their parents to develop sustainable careers.”

Graduate and lone parent Sarah Conway said, “The programme was great, you’re supported and challenged to be the best person you can be and the opportunity to develop a clear career plan. But it’s more than that, it’s the support behind you, you feel like you are part of something and that whatever challenges you face there is somebody there to lend a hand. I’m back at work now and together with my daughters we can start to see light at the end of the tunnel and a better future.”

Ms Kiernan added, “The European Social Fund (ESF) funded these programmes butthey require ongoing mainstream funding from the Department of Employment Affairs &Social Protection so that parents around Ireland can access them. We have been calling since the cuts in Budget 2012 for specialist supports for parents on Job-Seeker’s Transition Allowance (JST) so they can be career-ready as their children grow. While the DEASPhave helped in terms of signposting parents to our programmes, they don’t currently offer this form of targeted support. We would call on the Government and the Department to invest in targeted, measurable supports that make a tangible difference to parents’ lives, society and the economy.”



Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating.

One Family programmes:

  • New Futures is One Family’s flagship 24 week personal and professional development, specialist bridging programme accredited at QQI level 4
  • Options is an education programme accredited at QQI level 4 & 5 delivered by Ballsbridge College of Further Education
  • New Steps is an eight week parenting support and self-development programme
  • Pathways is a eight week college preparation course is for those interested in, or going into, further education.

All One Family’s programmes are specifically designed for those parenting alone or sharing parenting and incorporate 1:1 and wrap around family support services.

Key statistics from the One Family’s Annual Review 2017:

  • 16policy submissions over 72 representations
  • 75,000visitors accessed information on
  • over 4,100 queries received by askonefamily national helpline
  • 1 in 5 callers were specifically related to the One-Parent Family Payment
  • 25% of contacts had legal queries, mostly about access and maintenance
  • 1 in 3 calls were for listening support and lasted between 30 minutes to one hour
  • 20% of calls came from Dads.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family.
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 356,203 children lived in one-parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units.

Link to One Family Annual Review 2017:                                     For further information, visit


Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, Programmes Manager

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

The New Futures project is part supported by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020

One Family awarded contract for National Telephone Counselling Service for Crisis Pregnancy and Post-Abortion

[Dublin 4 September] Registered charity One Family has been appointed as the provider of the HSE’s National Telephone Counselling Service for Crisis Pregnancy and Post-Abortion. The service is due to start in 2019 and will provide a national counselling service to women experiencing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. The appointment comes following a European wide e-tender process.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said: “One Family is delighted to build on our decades of experience in providing non-directive crisis pregnancy counselling to women, their partners or family members to ensure that women will have all the information and support they need when new legislation is enacted around the provision of abortion services in Ireland.”

The service will provide 20 hours of counselling by telephone per week. Whilst plans are still in development it is anticipated that this will primarily be delivered out of regular office hours. The Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme of the HSE undertook the commissioning of this service.

Whilst the maximum budget available for the 3 year service was €800K, One Family’s bid was significantly less than this. One Family has undertaken to provide four counsellors for the 20 hours per week as it is anticipated that demand will be high for this service.

Kiernan continued: “We look forward to working in partnership with the HSE’s Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme so we can ensure that high quality services are available to people around Ireland who require them in a time of crisis. The HSE’s planned national promotional campaign will ensure that clear accurate information will be widespread about when and how to access this new innovative service.”

Notes to Editor:

One Family, formerly Cherish, has over 46 years experience working with women experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy. One Family has been providing expert training around the issues of crisis pregnancy, abortion and working with migrants to crisis pregnancy counsellors via Maynooth University over the past eight years.

For further information, visit

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications & Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Press Release | New Appointment to the Board of the Courts Service

Press Release | New Appointment to the Board of the Courts Service.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan appointed to the Board.

One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating –  announce the appointment of its CEO, Karen Kiernan, to the Board of the Courts Service by Minister of Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.

Ms Kiernan will represent consumers of the Courts Service on the board and her appointment comes following a robust open competition. Ms Kiernan said, “I am delighted to be appointed to the Board and look forward to working to represent the interests of family law users. Working in One Family since 2001, I understand the challenges that parents in conflict can face particularly in relation to custody, access and child maintenance.

Ms Kiernan continues “Family law reform is a key aspect of our Pre Budget Submission 2019 including the introduction of a comprehensive court welfare system that would support all parents and their children through the common and traumatic experience of separation and family dissolution.”

The Court Service Board consists of eighteen members. The function of the Board is to consider and determine policy in relation to the Service, and to oversee the implementation of that policy by the Chief Executive Officer. The full Board is listed here.


Karen Kiernan Biog

Karen Kiernan was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College. She has spent over twenty years working in the community and voluntary sector for organisations and has been CEO of One Family since 2001. Since she became CEO, Karen has overseen the development and expansion of One Family, which was formerly called Cherish, to become Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families.

Karen is passionate about what she sees as the two most critical issues for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating which are the unacceptably high rates of child poverty in one-parent families; and the dearth of supports for people whose families separate.

One Family Pre-Budget Submission calls for evidence based targeted supports rather than blanket increase in social welfare

Minister Doherty must resist attempts to give blanket social welfare increases and instead use research to focus increases on the most vulnerable groups

[Dublin 20 July] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has today said Budget 2019 must focus on evidence based targeted supports rather than blanket increases to social welfare. The charity’s comments came at the launch of its Pre-Budget Submission ahead of the Pre-Budget Forum in Dublin Castle.

Karen Kiernan One Family CEO said, “Budget 2019 must focus on targeted ‘evidence based’ increases to social welfare and we call on Minister Doherty to resist attempts to give blanket increases to all social welfare recipients. The Minister should use the realms of research that clearly show children living in one-parent families are consistently more likely to be poor than children in two parent families to target supports to one-parent families.”

Consistent research has shown that children in one-parent families are most at risk of poverty, Government must now act to support these vulnerable families. One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission includes recommendations that would enable Government to provide targeted supports to children living in poverty.

They include:

  • Full restoration of the Income Disregard for One-parent Family Payment and Jobseekers Transition. Increase earnings disregard to €161.40. In 2011, before the 2012 cuts were introduced, the earnings disregard equated to 16.9 hours of National Minimum Wage employment. A disregard of €161.40 would restore these hours and payment levels.
  • Standardise the child maintenance process and provide support for those parenting alone who are pursuing child maintenance. Do not leave this process solely to the parent with care responsibilities.
  • Raise the base rate of the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) from €31.80 to €35.00 per week for one-parent families most at risk of poverty and raise the QCI for children over the age of 12 to €37.80 per week, in recognition of the higher costs faced by families with older children.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be viewed here.

About One Family
One Family is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today.

Further Information

Karen Kiernan, One Family, CEO  | t: 01 662 9212 / 086 850 9191.

Noel Sweeney, Communications & Events Manager | t: 01 662 9212

88% of parents unhappy with campaign posters

Survey finds 75% of parents have discussed abortion with their children because of campaign.

A survey by One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating, has found that over 88% of parents think the referendum posters are unhelpful with 75% confirming the campaign has led to discussions with their children about abortion.

One Family, which provides crisis pregnancy and post abortion counselling services launched the survey last week following an escalation in the number of people seeking its counselling and parenting services, particularly its tips on how to speak to your child about abortion. The majority of those seeking support said they had done so after they, or their children, had seen graphic campaign posters.

Speaking about the results, One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “There has been a marked increase in women and couples seeking our counselling and parenting services. What we are finding is that parents are being triggered by the images into a conversation with their children that they are just not ready for. Many parents are particularly annoyed by posters that parents believe are targeting parents and children such as those being placed near schools. Although we don’t know how the parents might vote, overwhelmingly they are unhappy with the graphic posters.”

When asked ‘Have your children noticed the posters associated with the referendum campaign?’ 84% of parents said yes, their children had noticed the campaign while 88% answered No to the question ‘Have the posters associated with the referendum campaign been helpful to you as a parent?’

The survey found that 75% of parents had a discussion with their child about abortion because of the referendum but many did not do so proactively or willingly. Verbatim comments demonstrate some of the anger parents are feeling:

“This not a topic that I thought my 9 yr old was really ready to hear about or actually understand, but the more graphic posters from the no campaign made the topic impossible to avoid. Initially he was v shocked by the “killing babies” posters and was quite upset about it.”

The survey was conducted online by One Family through its social media and e-zine followers as well as via other organisations working with families and had over 300 respondents.  42% of parents who responded had children in the 6-10 age group, followed by 26% in the 3-5 age group and 20% in the 11+ age group.

 Selection of verbatim quotes from parents:

Q: Have your children noticed the posters associated with the referendum campaign?

“You can’t miss them 100 feet from their school gates.”

“Is it yes for abortion? What is abortion? Do you want abortion?”

“They are a constant source of discussion. They have come up in my child’s class 4th and when he was in 2nd classroom also discussed there. Think teachers are under pressure to provide age appropriate info. think it would associate abortion with killing and murder of babies because of the no posters and don’t know what effect this will have on these kids later.”

“ My 10 year old now informs me randomly that “1 in 5 ‘babies’ in the UK are aborted”

“Thankfully they are too young”

“My eldest son 9 has & can read. My 6 year old hasn’t noticed or hasn’t commented to me.”

Q: Have you discussed the issue of abortion and the referendum with your children as a result of the referendum campaign?

“I didn’t necessarily want to but had to. In the car. Images didn’t help at all. Would have likely discussed it but on my terms and in my words.”

“The campaigners left us with no choice but to discuss an issue which is not appropriate for our children”

“It’s been very difficult. I feel the posters are designed to be manipulative and to force parents into uncomfortable conversations with their children. Will the no side try to win at any price ? Even the innocence of children??”

“As far as it is Human Rights issue, content No poster not negative towards children”

“6 years old too young to discuss it with.”

“This not a topic that I thought my 9 yr old was really ready to hear about or actually understand, but the more graphic posters from the no campaign made the topic impossible to avoid. Initially he was v shocked by the “killing babies” posters and was quite upset about it.”

“He’s five so I’ve just explained about voting and we’ve practised voting with him and his younger sister on simple issues like what will we have for dinner. He hasnt read the word abortion he hasn’t asked so I haven’t discussed”.

Q: Have the posters associated with the referendum campaign been helpful to you as a parent?

“It’s nightmare explaining to 8 year old about abortion”

“I would have liked to have been in control of when we had the conversation.”

“Very difficult for them to get a balanced view when posters are so based on images of babies. I don’t think it is fair coverage. Referendum posters should be text only in my opinion.”

“Would answer somewhat helpful. Neither side is fully engaged or respectful with the impact this has on potential parents, pregnant women, but i would say particularly the No side has been disrespectful of women.”

“The images of foetuses on the posters with messages about killing etc. are extremely unhelpful because they have required explaining to my son (age 8) and that the No posters are lying about babies being aborted at 6 months, that they are just trying to manipulate people.”

“The posters are forcing parents to have to discuss a matter that’s just not appropriate for discussion with young children. I don’t want to tell my child why girls and women need access to a abortion ie when they have been raped, suicidal or when their life is at risk.”

“I’m lucky he hasn’t asked anything about the issue. But it’s been helpful to introduce the concept of voting and having a say in what the government does.”


Notes to Editor:

Survey ran online from Saturday 28 April to 9am Friday 4 May and 325 parents responded.

One Family, formerly Cherish, has been providing services and supports for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating since 1972. One Family provides post-termination and crisis pregnancy counselling and supports to its clients in their roles as parents and into training, education and employment. One Family also provides support for children in one-parent families.

For more information on who we are and what we do please visit:

One Family’s counselling services are funded by the HSE Sexual Heath and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP). Details of HSE funded services are available on and

One Family’s parenting tips are available here:

For more information please contact:

  • CEO, Karen Kiernan on tel: 086 850 9191
  • Communications and Events Manager, Noel Sweeney on tel: 085 7241294

How to talk with your child about abortion – A guide from One Family

One Family is aware that many parents are struggling to answer questions from their children about the abortion referendum and the associated posters, leaflets and online content. We would like to offer some support to parents so they can talk with their children with confidence. Parents are also welcome to contact our askonefamily helpline on 1890662212 or 016629212

Here are some thoughts and tips for different aged children that you may find useful in the coming weeks. As a parent remember, you know your child best and know what they are capable of understanding.


Children aged 3-5 years

As the campaign heats up there will be visual images on posters, leaflets and the media that children as young as 3-5 years old may notice and ask why. Of course at this age, children are far too young to understand the complexity of abortion. But they may be upset or confused by some of the images that are used in the campaign.

For parents the key things to remember are:

  • Think about the age of your child when you are giving them information. Decide what is appropriate for them and what they can understand. It is important to help them learn, not to scare them or leave them feeling worried about issues. Think about the language your kids use and the stories your kids are familiar with try and put it into a language that they will understand.
  • If your young child asks why there is a picture of a baby on a poster, explain to them that there is a big thing called a vote on right now. This is a time when people in our country have to decide about something, just like your child has to decide. Tell them that people think many different things, just like your child may. You can explain to them that some people are using images to show what to decide and they would like others to hear their voice about this, just like your child wants to be heard when they have something to say.
  • If your child asks what the vote is about you can tell them that this is when a woman decides she is not ready to be a mum. She can go to the hospital and get support with this and this vote is about how to help the women.
  • Reassure your child that it is okay for people to  make decisions  and make their voice heard. However, also reassure them that these are only pictures and that they do not need to worry about the babies.
  • Try to then bring them back to more positive, easier to manage situations appropriate to their age. However, remember they will ask again tomorrow. They may ask more about what a vote is or some other word you used when talking with them.
  • Be patient and continue to use your good parenting skills – listen and take time to answer their questions in an age appropriate way. Explain to them and reassure them. Do it all again tomorrow and the next day until they are clear and are fully reassured.


Children aged 6-10 years

Children in this age group can take a great interest in what is going on around them, in their school, their local community and in their home. You will find they may be listening in on adult conversations more frequently, or listening to what is on the news as they are becoming very curious about the bigger world around them.

The campaigns on the upcoming referendum for the repeal of the 8th amendment will generate great curiosity for them. As a parent some key issues for you to consider in order to support your child in the coming weeks include:

  • Firstly, you need to be clear on where you stand on the issue of the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment. Understanding why you have your opinion and being able to explain this to your child in an age appropriate way is key to helping them.
  • At this age, factual information is still often what they require.
  • Explain to your child clearly what abortion is. Simple accurate wording is that ‘abortion is when a woman chooses to no longer be pregnant and her pregnancy is ended with a procedure called an abortion’. Another word for abortion is termination.
  • In Ireland we do not have the ability to have abortions and we are now being asked to vote to decide if we should allow women in Ireland to be able to make the decision to have an abortion or not.
  • Right now if a woman decides she does not want to be pregnant, she can go to England or another country and have the operation there. She can also take tablets in Ireland but she cannot have any help from doctors here doing this. This does not work for many women and has caused them problems.
  • Tell your child there are many reasons that women decide to have an abortion. You can tell them if you feel strongly either way. However try to stick to facts. At this age, they may not necessarily want to know, or have the capacity to understand what you believe. They want facts and knowledge. Children want to know why there are posters and why people are talking about the issue.
  • When they reach the next stage of development then it may be the right time to talk with them about what you believe about abortion and related issues.


Children aged 11 years and older

Children of this age range will hopefully have a good understanding of reproduction, sexuality and they may also be starting to experience relationships. Parents and schools will have hopefully have spoken in great detail with these young people about how their bodies work, how babies are formed and the importance of sex and relationships. Some young girls may already have started their period and may be very conscious of how a girl or woman can become pregnant. Many young people in this age range will be starting puberty so sexual development will be a key issue for them. Some areas to consider when supporting adolescents include:

  • These children and young people will need a lot of support from parents and adults around them to help them understand what the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment is all about. Making time to sit and talk with them is really important as they may not always proactively come to you and ask you their questions. However it is always best they get good information from their parents rather than mixed messages through social media, friends and the larger community.
  • For many parents it may seem easy to close down the conversation and offer moral reasoning to young people, however they may still not understand what the voting is all about. So it is important to try, no matter what you feel about the topic to explore it gently with them.
  • Explain what the legal situation is in Ireland. Women do not have the ability to end a pregnancy here unless they decide to travel abroad or access pills online without medical care.
  • Ensure they know what an abortion is. An abortion is when a woman has a medical procedure or takes special medication that will result in her no longer being pregnant.
  • Think about what you would want for your child, young person if they experienced an unplanned or crisis pregnancy in the future. Would you want them to have a choice?  Have you raised them to know they should always have options and that you will support them in the choices they make, although some will have very difficult and serious consequences?
  • Talk with young people about the importance of relationships, of contraception and consent within relationships. Help them to understand all the key issues they need to explore and understand so crisis pregnancy will hopefully never be an issue that they are presented with. However help them to understand clearly the issue of access to abortion that is presenting today in Ireland.
  • Your young people are not old enough to vote, so you do not need to convince them of what they should think. It is about giving them good clear information and allowing them form their own opinions, just as you most likely do with so many other issues that have come up over the years.  Respecting their opinion will encourage them to respect your opinion.