Christmas can be a wonderful time. It can be a time when we come together to celebrate the passing of another year and to look forward to beginning a new year full of potential and possibility. It can be a time of re-connecting with our family and friends and remembering those who are no longer with us. Yet for all that, it can be a time of enormous stress and for some people tremendous loneliness. Images of happy faces and perfect families in media ads may not match the sadness and pain we may be feeling inside.
Here is part two of our two-part Christmas Guide for One-Parent Families.
Dealing with Conflict
Many of the worst arguments happen at Christmas. Bored children, being cooped up with relatives, the availability of alcohol, and a sense of claustrophobia can create an environment where tensions are high.
- Try to pre-empt possible arguments by planning access arrangements in advance
- Try to communicate in a direct, open and honest manner
- Don’t meet another person’s anger with your anger
- Respect yourself even if the other parent shows you none
- Get out for a walk with the children – tire them out
- Have a bath or take a nap to get away from everyone
- Be prepared to let some behaviours go over the Christmas period
- Be willing to compromise if necessary
- If your child complains about the other parent, try encouraging them to talk directly with that parent
- Keep adult communication directly between adults. Refuse to use your child as a go-between
Financial Management at Christmas
It’s a really good idea to make a commitment to yourself that you will not over-spend this Christmas. The next step is to budget. The earlier you sit down and budget for the holiday the better. Here are some sample categories which might help:
|Category||Items listed in detail||Estimated cost||Total cost|
|Regular food shopping for 2 week period|
|Food and drink for specific days i.e. 25th, 26th, 1st|
|Decorations – Lights, Christmas tree etc|
|Gifts for children|
|Gifts for other family members and friends|
|Christmas cards and postage|
Be very realistic – Remember the presents are only the start. Making a realistic list of the expenditure will make it easier to see where you can economise.
Be honest – Can you really afford to fund such a sum? If the answer is no, you must cut back.
Be wary of credit – If you find that you need short-term credit to bridge the gap between normal income and abnormal expenditure at Christmas, decide how you will fund this. Your main options are credit cards, bank or credit union loans or authorised overdrafts. All have advantages as well as disadvantages. Whatever you decide, make sure you can afford to meet the costs of the credit, including interest, after Christmas. Avoid unauthorised lenders.
Dealing with Pressure from Children and Young People
Talk to them – It can be really helpful to talk to your children early on about Christmas and explain that you all have a tight budget to work with. If Santa is coming to your house explain to children that Santa has a lot of children throughout the world to visit on Christmas Eve and he has asked parents to tell children to list their top three presents but to expect only one of these, and to understand that he has a budget. It is better to explain to your child that you cannot afford very expensive presents rather than overstretching yourself and getting into debt.
Get them involved in planning – Planning the Christmas with children and young people can help them better understand the pressures of Christmas. It can also be fun working together and help children gain a sense of responsibility.
Self talk – Remind yourself that you are not letting your children down by not getting them exactly what presents they want. Value the love you give them every day of the year. In years to come it will be this they remember rather than how much you spent on them.
Expectations – Remember for many younger children it isn’t the cost of the item that interests them but what they can do with it. Children often find the box more exciting than the gift itself!
Don’t give in to pressure – Children and young people often make demands of their parents. Parents may fear that if they don’t give the child the present they want, then he or she won’t love them. Remind yourself the value of saying “no”. Saying no can help a child understand choices and disappointments. It is far worse for the child or young person to see you upset and anxious about financial difficulties.
Fun Things To Do with Children
Whether you’re with your children for all of the holiday period or have access at certain times, finding fun activities appropriate to the season that don’t cost a lot can be a challenge. Here are some ideas:
- Christmas carols
- Christmas lights – Take your child into your nearest town or city to see the lights at night or take a tour of your locality
- Decorate your tree together
- Feed the ducks or swans, or put out a bird feeder together. Animals can find it hard to get food this time of year
- Check out your local library for details of free activities held for children over December and January
- Bake a cake together
- Make homemade sweets and cookies to give out as presents
- Make a jig saw together
- Visit your local art gallery, most galleries have free activities and workshops for children with materials provided
- Go swimming
- Visit your local park, or the botanical gardens in Dublin to watch the squirrels
- Have books and DVDs ready to entertain
- The national concert hall in Dublin hold a range of events for children
- Visit museums – our national museums have free admission and offer many family-friendly tours and activities
- Wrap up well and get plenty of fresh air
- Winter picnics can be fun too – bring a flask and check out adventure playgrounds in your area
- Make Christmas decorations – it’s easy and fun to string together pop corn to hang on the tree, or paper chains
- Visit a pantomime – matinees are usually offered at a reduced cost
Part one of our Christmas Guide includes advice on Taking the Stress out of Christmas, Christmas Alone, and Coping with Sad or Painful Memories. Click here to read it.
For help and advice
One Family askonefamily Lo-call Helpline | 1890 662 212 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Money Advice and Budgeting Service | 0761 07 2000 | www.mabs.ie
Citizens Information Helpline | 0761 07 4000 | 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday
The Samaritans | 1850 60 90 90 | 24 Hours service
Aware – Defeat Depression | 1890 303 302 | 10am – 10pm from Monday to Sunday
The askonefamily helpline has developed the first in a series of new information resources to help one-parent families
- An entitlements map – An easy to understand visual aid outlining the supports available to you as a lone parent in work or out of paid work.
- Tutorial – Step-by-step guide on How to fill out the One-parent Family Payment (OFP) application form.
These are the first in a series of new resources the Askonefamily helpline is developing to make information more accessible to parents.
askonefamily provides information on: social welfare entitlements and issues, family law issues, housing, education, finances, childcare, parenting and community supports. We also offer support for those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
The Board and staff of One Family wish you and your family a peaceful and joyful festive season.
Our office and our askonefamily helpline close on Thursday 22 December 2016 and will reopen on Tuesday 3 January 2017.
We have gathered these numbers for other services that you may find useful if you need information or support over the holiday season:
Citizens Information Phone Services (CIPS): 0761 07 4000
Parentline: 1890 927 277
Childline: 1800 66 66 66
Teenline: 1800 833 634
Aware: 1890 303 302
Samaritans: 116 123
askonefamily is a helpline offering information and listening support for men and women who may be parenting alone, sharing parenting or separating. The helpline is also available to extended family, friends or professionals.
People call askonefamily for all kinds of reasons. They may have a question about their financial situation, maybe they are finding it difficult to communicate with their child’s other parent, or they may simply need a listening ear. Some other queries include:
- Family law issues
- Talking to your child about their family situation
- Social welfare benefits and entitlements
- Relationship breakdown
- Return to education or employment
Call us on 1890 66 22 12 or 01 662 9212, from Monday to Friday between 10am-2pm. We also offer an email service for information.
The askonefamily helpline has been offered by One Family since 2004, supporting many thousands of parents by providing information, listening to their concerns, and letting them know about other available services both here in One Family and in their local community. When you call the helpline you will talk with one of the askonefamily team, either a staff member or a volunteer. This will be someone with training in non-directive listening and experience of parenting or working with families. We all need a listening ear at times or we might need information when we have a decision to make. When you call askonefamily you can expect to be listened to and given the right information that you need.
1890 66 22 12 is a lo-call number from land lines, but call rates to lo-call (1850/1890) numbers from mobile phones may vary. You should check specific details with your mobile service provider.
The process of separation or divorce can be confusing, distressing and lonely. For parents who are sharing parenting during and after separation, communication is essential, and both parents will want to protect their children and ensure that, no matter how the family situation may change, they know how loved they are. They will need to develop a shared parenting plan. But sometimes hurt or anger can lead to a breakdown, or even a cessation, of communication between parents.
The best way to achieve a workable parenting plan is one that is mediated or facilitated by a third party experienced in this area. The plan has a much better chance of success if both parents have contributed to its development and agree on an approach to shared parenting. One Family’s Mediated Parenting Plan service is offered by our Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Geraldine is qualified with a BA in Early Childhood Care & Education, in Preschool Care and Applied Social Studies, as a qualified Parent Mentor with a level 6 award in Parent Mentoring and in Effective Communications, and as a Mediator with recognition as a practicing international mediator specialising in parenting and family transitions. Geraldine has worked with people parenting alone, sharing parenting, their children, and families in transition with One Family since 2003.
Every family situation is different. What works for one may not work for another. One Family’s Mediation Service supports both parents to keep their child at the centre of parenting and to have as positive a relationship with one another as possible, so that they can parent in a productive way that promotes positive parenting.
If you would like to learn more about our Mediated Parenting Plan service – which is part of a suite of support services which also includes parent mentoring, counselling, shared parenting and positive parenting courses, and our askonefamily helpline – please click here or call us on 01 662 9212.
National Mediation Awareness Week runs from 19 to 24 October 2015 with the aim of highlighting ‘the benefits of mediation and the opportunity it offers to resolve conflict right across our society’. Find out more here.
Every month a member of the One Family services team explains more about the particular supports they offer. This month, Parent Mentor Niki Williams writes about One Family mentoring supports available to all parents.
Parent Mentoring is a service where a parent can safely talk one to one with a trained professional about any concerns they may have with their family and child relationships. With sensitive guidance and practical suggestions, the mentor supports a parent to identify what is working well for their family and what could be changed.
Raising children can be a really challenging job yet most of us don’t evaluate our family relationships until a crisis forces us to. When living with a situation daily, it can be difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’. Whether facing tantrums with toddlers, fussy eaters, children who won’t stay in their beds, unhappiness at school or a grunting teenager, it’s okay for a parent to need a listening ear and a helping hand sometimes. Parents always work hard to do their very best for their children.
A Parent Mentor will support a parent to take time to reflect and reach a new perspective on what’s happening. This is useful for any parent regardless of the age and stage of their child/ren.
I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, Counsellor, Parent Mentor and Trauma Therapist by training. I’ve also experienced challenging life events. In my experience, getting support doesn’t always mean solving the problem. It can mean maintaining a loving relationship even in the face of that problem. With increased knowledge about why parents and children behave the way they do, a more peaceful and enhanced home life can result for every member of the family.
One Family’s Parenting Mentoring service is now available in Cork, Dublin and Wicklow with additional regions being added later this year. This is a low-cost service charged on a sliding scale from €20-€60. To book, call 01 662 9212 or click here to complete a short booking form.
Every month a member of the One Family services team explains more about the particular supports they offer. This month, Counselling Support Worker Lisa Maguire writes about One Family supports available to young people in care.
This service is for young people who are pregnant or already parenting and who are in care or have a care history. A range of emotional and practical supports are available through pregnancy and into parenthood. Young people can self-refer to the service. Because the service is client-led, interventions are tailored to meet their stated needs. Such ‘interventions’ might include assistance with accessing entitlements; one-to-one parenting sessions; advocating on behalf of clients to relevant authorities, and the provision of ‘listening ear’ support. This service works closely with One Family’s unplanned pregnancy counselling service too.
Young people with a care history might not have any dependable adults in their lives to whom they can turn for support, information and guidance. Our service offers these supports. Becoming a parent, especially for a young person, involves many changes and often many challenges; accessing support during the transition to parenthood can increase a sense of ‘being prepared’ and can reduce associated stress.
My interest in justice and equality and in empowering those most marginalised in our society led me to complete a degree in Social Studies in Social Care in 2003. Since then I’ve worked in a number of different sectors including the youth and residential care sector, with people who are homeless, and in the field of mental health.
One Family’s Young People in Care service gives me the opportunity to work in a client-centred service where clients develop a sense of their strengths and capabilities.
This is a free service which can be contacted directly by young people who can call or text me on 086 079 3072 or email me to find out more about it or to book an appointment. We also take referrals, and professionals working with young people can call me on 01 662 9212.
A relationship ending can mean a huge sense of loss, shock and disbelief, and result in anger, fear and stress. There are many practical issues to be sorted out which can seem overwhelming, particularly in a difficult break-up without both persons cooperating. These practical issues need attention and the sooner separating parents begin resolving them, the sooner the family can settle into new routines and arrangements.
5 Ways to Cope with the End of a Relationship
- Talk to your children about what is happening in the family, once the decision to separate is final. Mums and dads might like to think children are not aware of difficulties between them but they often notice more than you think and it is important to let them know that the separation is not their fault. It is an emotional and uncertain time for all of you. If you can talk to them together it can help your children to understand that you are both available to them at this time, despite what is happening. Share future plans and arrangements with them, if possible.
- Set aside the issues of your adult relationship when it comes to the relationship that your children have with their other parent – try to remain courteous towards them or if this is too difficult, be neutral as your children love both of you.
- Find someone you trust to talk to. Get support from a trusted friend or professional – family members can also be supportive in many ways although sometimes may be less impartial, especially when there may be conflict between the couple. It is important that you have a space to talk about how you are feeling.
- Consider mediation. This can be a way of negotiating and working out a plan for the future, on everything from money to sharing parenting. See www.legalaidboard.ie for details of the free Family Mediation Service in many locations around the country.
- Get legal advice. You do not need to do anything with it but it may help in your decision-making to know where you stand legally and what options may be there, if needed. See FLAC (Free Legal Aid Advice Centres) on www.flac.ie for details of the legal advice centre nearest you.
There is no denying that this is a particularly difficult time but trying to remain optimistic and acknowledging your feelings will help. One Family’s national lo-call askonefamily helpline is available on 1890 662 212 and by email at email@example.com.
Further information is also available in the askonefamily section of this site.
Some people will no longer qualify for the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) from 4 July 2013. If you are getting no other payment you may qualify for other income supports. A Jobseeker’s Allowance transition payment is available, which aims to support lone parents with children under 14 years of age back into the workforce. You need to make a new claim for these payments.
If you are working and are already getting a Family Income Supplement (FIS) your FIS payment will automatically increase when your OFP ends. This will partially make up for the loss of the OFP.
If you are unsure of what you can access and are struggling financially, please call our askonefamily Lo-call Helpline on 1890 662 212 or email us.
1. Q. My payment is due to end in July as my youngest child is 18, can I avail of the Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition scheme?
A: No, the Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition scheme will only apply to those whose youngest child is under 14 so if you are applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance you will be subject to the full conditionality of being available for and genuinely seeking full time work.
2. Q. My payment is due to end in July and my youngest child is 11. I am working 5 mornings a week from 10 to 12 noon, can I apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition?
A: Yes, because your child is under 14 you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition and although you are employed for 5 days in the week you are still eligible for this payment, subject to the means test.
3. Q. I started receiving OPF in November 2011. My child is 14 now and my payment is going to end as the age conditions changes from 14 to 12 in July. What payment am I eligible for as I am job seeking already?
A: As your child is already 14 then you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance and you will need to meet the full conditionality of the payment of being available for and genuinely seeking full time work.
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Trading as One Family, Cherish CLG is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, registered in Dublin, Ireland with registered office at 8 Coke Lane, Dublin 7 and registered Company Number 45364. One Family is also a charity (Charity Regulatory Authority No. 20012212 and Charity No. 6525).
Directors of One Family: Helen Hall, Sinéad Gibney, Jennifer Good, Nuala Haughey, John-Mark McCafferty, Eimear Fisher, Edel Fagan and Jack Eustace.