Research on families sharing parenting of young children

One Family, Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating is seeking parents  to take part in an online survey on the experiences of young children living in families where parents are separated. The survey is being carried out by a joint research team from Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork on behalf of One Family. The research project is funded through the RTE Toy Show Appeal and Community Foundation for Ireland Fund and is seeking to develop guidance on contact time for infants and young children in separated families.

Why is this research needed?

Pregnancy and the first year of a baby’s life is the most common point of separation for parents (where a relationship exists). Many parents seek assistance during the separation process; particularly when this intersects with pregnancy, an infant or young child, high conflict, abuse and/or limited parental communication. One Family works with parents and their children, providing counselling and parenting services during this time. We see decisions made – by parents or by the courts – that may not be in the infant’s best interest. Often decisions are made on a pro-parental contact basis without due consideration or understanding of an infant or young child’s cognitive and emotional development.

There is no uniform approach to contact with infants or young children for separated families in Ireland with the various stakeholders holding different perspectives and placing varying emphasis on factors such as the principle of the best interest of the child, child protection, parental rights etc. Due to the lack of a consistent, evidenced-based approach parents often struggle to determine how to best share parenting of young children. Some are concerned that it may not be in their child’s best interest to spend overnight visits with a parent who is not the primary caregiver; other parents worry about the effect lack of contact will have on their ability to bond with their young child. There is a clear need for evidence-based, child centred, best practice guidelines to support decisions and practices made by the courts, child and family professionals and practitioners and families.

How to participate

One Family received funding from the RTE Toy Show Appeal: Improving Wellbeing Strand to research contact time for infants and young children in separating/ed families . The objective of the research is to protect the long-term emotional, mental and physical health and well-being of children by ensuring they form appropriate bonds of attachment with their parents in complex and challenging circumstances. The short and long-term safety and best interests of children should be the paramount concern of the research.

To complete the survey:

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. As a registered charity, we offer 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 our 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. Full information on One Family can be found at