Survey marking 50th anniversary of One Family reveals negative attitudes continue towards one-parent families.

Press Release

Friday 14 October 2022

A survey looking at perceived attitudes to lone parents has revealed 80% of the 265 lone parents who completed the survey have experienced stigma or judgemental attitudes due to their family type. The survey results have been released as One Family, formerly Cherish, Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families celebrates its 50th anniversary at an event at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Founder of One Family, Maura O’Dea Richards, said, “When we set up Cherish/One Family in October 1972 unmarried mothers were being ostracised in society and imprisoned in the laundries. Now 50 years later, it’s so sad to see these ridiculous attitudes to people parenting alone persist. A lot has changed in Ireland since 1972, and we now like to think of ourselves as a progressive forward-thinking country, but we still seem to have this blind spot about those parenting alone. It’s just not right and will continue until Ireland embraces all families. A good first start would be to change article 41.3 of the Constitution on the definition of the family.”

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said, “I’d like to say the survey results are a shock to us but they’re not. Through our work with families, we hear regular reports of discrimination, stigma and judgemental attitudes against one-parent families. Unfortunately, this seems to be manifesting in Government policy decisions. Since 2016, there have been more than 16 separate reports on lone parents and poverty, all say these families are the poorest in the state and need targeted supports. Yet we have no action by Government. Both the ESRI and CSO have shown, contrary to Government assertions, that lone parents will be worse-off following last month’s budget. Yet another blind eye is turned in Ireland’s relationship with one-parent families. Often indifference and discrimination can amount to the same thing.”

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) said, “Firstly I’d like to congratulate One Family for 50 years supporting one-parent families in Ireland. As a lone parent myself, I find the results of this vox pop survey extremely disappointing but unfortunately not surprising. I encourage anyone from a one-parent family who believes they have experienced discrimination to contact the IHREC offices and we will investigate the claim; no-one should be discriminated against because of their family type.”


For Editors:
One Family was founded in October 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national 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. For more information on One Family visit:

Survey Results:

This non-scientific survey was conducted online with one-parent families from 5/10/2022 to 12/10/2022 and had 265 respondents and was open to members of one-parent families. The survey had four questions:

Q1) Do you think people in one-parent families experience stigma or judgemental attitudes because of their family type in Ireland?

Yes   85.20%

No    13%

Don’t Know:  1.6%

Q2) Have you experienced stigma or judgemental attitudes towards you or your family because of the type of family you are in?

Yes  80.58%

No  19.42%

Q3) If you feel you have experienced negative attitudes because you are in a one-parent family, where has this been? (Respondents could give more than one answer)

Health Service:                             39.89%

Education:                                      40.43%

Social Protection Services:       39.89%

Media:                                              45.21%

In my workplace:                         28.72%

Family law courts:                       32.45%

Law enforcement:                        12.23%

Family and friends:                     60.64%

Quotes from parents relating to the answer above:

“GAA matches where other mothers wouldn’t engage much with me no matter how hard I tried to become friendly with them so I wouldn’t be standing on the side-lines alone.”

Quote from a mother


“Much of this is unintentional, but as a single parent much of the societal demands are worse for single parents e.g. affidavit getting a passport…The current creche crisis is especially grim for single working parents. Very much the expectation that a partner can take the child etc… I very envious of friends who both work from home and can juggle some childcare- feels like institutionalised stigma.”

Quote from a mother


“Local neighbours automatically asking about my ‘husband’ and being awkward when I tell them I’m single..”

Quote from a mother


“Community organisations who often do not understand that single parents can’t just leave their kids at home to attend ‘adult-only’ events and that many single parents can’t afford to pay a babysitter”

Quote from a mother


“I don’t fit a media or advocacy group stereotype so I tend to get an immediate dismissal when I mention this but …With some state and financial services I found when I initially became a male co-parent it meant I got a dismissive or occasionally quite negative response. Conversation tones and approaches negatively changed if I was being dealt with by a younger female provider with lots of ‘hummms’ or ‘sure right’ as if I’d invited the situation I was going through on to myself and my kids…”

Quote from a father


Q4) As a member of a one parent family how do you feel about your family type?

Positive   59.63%

Neutral   30.28%

Negative 10.09%

Selected comments from parents:

“I feel sorry for my child that the other parent didn’t want to be involved in their life. It is also a huge struggle after the child turns 18 you as a parent still have pay for college pay your bills and mortgage on your own with no benefits if your a full time worker.”

Quote from a mother


“Because I have raised her in a happy home….I have no one that divides my attention or contributes to conflict. It has been me and her for 17 years and we are so close. I really feel we are a lot closer as a mother and daughter than some of my friends who have children who are with their partners”

Quote from a mother


For further information visit:
Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO

Further Information/Scheduling
Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294