Posts

Press Release | Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey Results Revealed

Press Release

Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey Results Revealed

Over 1,000 separated parents document their positives and challenges

(Dublin, Monday 30th January 2017) Today One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – publishes the results of its Shared Parenting Survey and accompanying policy recommendations at a launch in Dublin’s Mansion House with speakers including Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and Child Law Expert; Josepha Madigan TD and Family Law Solicitor; Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee, Solicitor and mediator; and Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO. One Family has 45 years experience of working with, and representing, one-parent families and those who share parenting, and devised and conducted the survey in response to a damaging lack of awareness and services experienced by these families.

The survey response was overwhelming with 1,014 women and men who share, or have attempted to share, parenting of their children after separation documenting their sometimes harrowing, yet often positive, personal experiences. The data, gathered in July and August last year, will finally give a voice to these parents and their children, and can inform appropriate policies and services in the future.

Key findings include:

  • The majority of respondents whose child does not live with them most of time, spend time with their child on a weekly basis.
  • While almost 27% of respondents arranged this time amicably between them, for almost 51% it was agreed with difficulty, through mediation or court ordered.
  • 62% of respondents whose child lives with them most or all of the time stated that their child’s other parent contributes financially to their child’s costs; 38% stated that the other parent does not contribute financially.
  • Over 50% of respondents stated that they do not make decicions jointly on issues that impact on their child(ren).
  • Over 34% of respondents have attended mediation.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Our survey highlights the positives and the challenges, and the diversity and range, of shared parenting relationships in Ireland today. It finds that parents overwhelmingly agree that their children must be their central focus, but that conflict between them often impedes this. What helped some was a commitment to the mediation process, where it was available and appropriate.” Karen continues: “Maintenance, accommodation and finances are cited many times as huge obstacles to be overcome, as were domestic violence and the family law courts system.”

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Child Law Expert comments: “We must ensure that we hear the voices of children appropriately in family law cases as provided for in the Children’s Referendum. This will require investment in the necessary infrastructure to make sure that children who live in shared parenting families have the best possible arrangements in place.”

Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee, comments: “Given that the Children & Family Relationships Act 2015 is now in place, bringing modernity to legislation in relation to families, we now need the infrastructure of courts to keep pace. According to One Family’s findings, over 50% of respondents stated that they believed court services needed to be improved and that family supports such as parenting programmes, counselling and mediation would assist them in sharing parenting. We badly need a court welfare system and services available to family court users to improve outcomes for parents and children, improve efficiencies in the court system and reduce repeated court visits. The new family law facility planned for Hammond Lane in Dublin must provide these support services and all stakeholders in the family law system now need to work together to ensure that the best family law system is put in place. One Family has started the dialogue and we all need to plan a better way to solve family law problems.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “Our recommendations stress the urgent need for cohesive and consolidated policy and practice changes across Government Departments that will result in a reduction of child poverty in Ireland. Evidence shows that separation, shared parenting and parenting alone are associated with less income for children, yet subsequent budgets have targeted women and men in these parenting situations, with negative outcomes for children. It is time for policies and services to catch up with the realities for families in Ireland today.”

One Family’s National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations report is available to read/download online on www.onefamily.ie and on this link:

National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations

One Family extends its sincere gratitude to each of the 1,014 parents who responded to this survey. This report draws directly from their survey responses and directly quotes many of their comments. Their honesty and openness will help to make Ireland a better place to share parenting in the future.

Notes for Editors

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today – 25.8% of all families with children (Census 2011)
  • 5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011)
  • Family Relationships and Family Well-Being: A Study of the Families of Nine Year-Olds in Ireland by Tony Fahey, Patricia Keilthy and Ela Polek (2012): Shared Parenting in Lone Parent and Step Families (pg. 24) contains information on shared parenting in Ireland and can be read on www.onefamily.ie/Policy/Campaigns

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017. It is Ireland’s leading 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 66 22 12, 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 (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

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

Parents who are separated and sharing parenting.

Further Information

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

 

Policy | Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations

SPResults_Cover Image_LRIn 2016, One Family devised and conducted Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey in response to a lack of public debate and narrative around shared parenting in modern Ireland. Over one thousand women and men who share parenting, or who have attempted to, responded.

The results have been analysed, and we are pleased to now publish a report entitled Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations which can be read or downloaded by clicking on the image on the left.

Key findings include:

  • The majority of respondents whose child does not live with them most of time, spend time with their child on a weekly basis.
  • While almost 27% of respondents arranged this time amicably between them, for almost 51% it was agreed with difficulty, through mediation or court ordered.
  • 62% of respondents whose child lives with them most or all of the time stated that their child’s other parent contributes financially to their child’s costs; 38% stated that the other parent does not contribute financially.
  • Just over 50% of respondents stated that they do not make decisions jointly on issues that impact on their child(ren).
  • Over 34% of respondents have attended mediation.

One Family extends its sincere gratitude to each of the parents who took the time to share their personal experiences. This report draws directly from their survey responses and includes many of their comments. One Family believes that their honesty and openness will help to make Ireland a better place to share parenting in the future.

Christmas Candles

10 Ways to Achieve Successful Shared Parenting Over Christmas

Christmas Candles 150x150Christmas doesn’t have to be a difficult time for parents who do not live together and share parenting of their child. There are, of course, things that will need to be worked out. What is most important is to do this well in advance, agreeing to solutions and a plan. Agree your plan now in November, to help ensure a happy, fun-filled Christmas for all members of the family, centered around your child. Read on for this week’s parenting tips which explore how parents can achieve successful shared parenting over the Christmas season.

  1. Start thinking it through and planning now.
  2. Plan with your child. Talk with your child about Christmas and explore with them that it lasts for more than one day.
  3. Tell them that both you and their other parent love them and enjoy time with them at Christmas. Ask your child how they would like Christmas to look. Talk with them about the options available.
  4. Try to hear your child in this. Most parents prefer to have their child with them on Christmas Day, and in many separated families it is not possible. See Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day all as Christmas. You will have to agree if each year one of you has the children with them on the 25th and the other parent has them on the 24th or 26th.
  5. Talk with your child’s other parent. Ask them what they hope Christmas will look like and then start to negotiate on contact. Use assertive communication skills. Try not to jump in with a no straight away to what they hope for. Think of your child’s needs and how best you can both meet them. Don’t have these discussions in front of your child.
  6. Children love Christmas – if they don’t have parents arguing over them. All the gifts in the world won’t help if your child is distressed or worried. Talk and plan in advance and avoid conflict. Give each other space to think about what the other parent wants, then talk again about your shared plans.
  7. Explain to your child what will happen and that you and the other parent will try your best to ensure they have the Christmas they hope for. Make sure your child has the information they need in advance.
  8. Children are not going to object to two Christmases. Santa can leave gifts in both homes. Santa knows, of course, that some children have two homes. Families comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
  9. Talk about buying the gifts early on. Both parents usually want to be involved in this. Can each of you buy your own gifts from your child’s list and agree to give them on the one day or over two days? Often children get too much on the 25th – maybe they would appreciate receiving the gifts more spread out. Children need to share the excitement with both parents.
  10. If you need help to communicate with each other, seek professional support from services such as One Family’s Mediated Parenting Plans or Parent Mentoring services so you can make plans for a Christmas that everyone can look forward to.

Next you might like to read 10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Coming soon: 10 Ways to Explain an Absent Parent and 10 Ways to Nurture Your Role as a Stepparent.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on shared parenting over Christmas on Monday 10 November from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your questions.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Questioning Child

10 Ways to Understanding How Your Child May Feel During Separation

Whatever the circumstances, parental separation is hard on families and big changes must be made. Keeping their children at the centre of parenting and responding to the thoughts, feelings and questions a child may have, will help parents to help their child.

Research shows that children normally experience one or more of the following reactions to the separation of their parents:

  1. Loyalty conflict: Children often get caught in the middle.
  2. Does Mum or Dad love someone else?: Although Mum or Dad might not love each other, it is important to reassure the child that they love him/her.
  3. I don’t want to come over today: As they get older, children’s interests vary. They may not want to visit a parent and may just want to spend more time with their friends.
  4. Fantasies of responsibility and reconciliation:  Children may feel they are responsible for their parents’ separation. They may dream up plans to get their parents to reconcile.
  5. Why don’t you love Mum or Dad anymore?: It is not uncommon for children to ponder this question. Often children will blame the parent who they believe initiated the separation and view the other parent as a victim.
  6. If you do not come home, I will never speak to you again: The purpose of a statement like this is to make the parent feel guilty so that they will return home.
  7. Anger: Children between the ages of 8-16 years can experience intense anger. They can often be most angry with the parent they blame for separation, but they may express anger only towards the parent they view as the ‘safest’, usually the resident parent.
  8. What should I tell my friends?: If you want your child to share the situation with others, you must be able to do the same. Encourage your child to be honest about the situation.
  9. Why are you separating?: Children are more likely to ask this if they have not been given a clear explanation for the separation.
  10. Worry about the future: The child may worry about the future. This is more likely to occur where there is parental conflict around contact and maintenance. Parents need to listen to their child’s worries and talk honestly and openly with them about any concerns.

If you found this post useful, you might also like to read 10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting and 10 Ways to Positively Maintain Contact.

One Family offers counselling and play therapy for young people and children, and a range of services to parents sharing parenting or parenting alone after separation. You can find out about them here. If you need support, information or advice, contact our lo-call askonefamilyhelpline on 1890 66 22 12 / support@onefamily.ie.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Problem Solving and 10 Ways to Develop Family Rituals.

Child Contact Centre

10 Ways to Positively Maintain Contact

For many parents sharing parenting after separation, one parent is the ‘primary carer’ and the other ‘non-resident’ or ‘contact’ parent, spends their time with their child at weekends and holidays. It can be challenging for parents in this situation, especially if trust has been broken, to put their feelings about their ex to one side. Remaining focused on the needs of your child is important. In time, a shared parenting relationship can become established where you can both share the positives of being parents.

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of weekly parenting tips, here are our tips for non-resident/contact parents to positively maintain contact to help both parents to focus on keeping their child at the centre of parenting.

1. Once agreed: When you have managed to agree on contact, follow through.
2. Be on time: Timekeeping is crucial. The other parent can and will feel very disrespected if you are late and children can become very anxious and upset.
3. Turn up: This is your time with your child. It may not be exactly what you want but it’s what you have now. Turn up and be with your child. Nothing else should take its place. Rearrange other things – never your child!
4. Maintenance: Try to stick to all court orders and don’t give ammunition to the other parent. Some parents might use maintenance as a bargaining tool.
5. Plan your time: Make contact fun. It doesn’t have to cost much money. Make it child friendly and interact at a very high level with your child. You can rest later.
6. Involve your child: Plan with your child each week. Talk with them and ask them what they would like to do. Follow through.
7. Respect: Always speak well of the other parent even if you don’t feel it. They are your child’s parent and you can impact greatly on their ability to parent and in turn, your child’s well-being.
8. Be back on time: Again, respect the agreement. The resident parent can and will become very distressed even if the child is 5 minutes late.
9. Parent: When with your child be an active parent. Play with them, talk with them and have fun and laugh together.
10. Don’t quiz your child: It’s not your child’s job to keep you informed about the other parent. Talk about school, activities, their likes and dislikes. Talk with them as needed about why you can’t live with them all the time any more. They will seek explanations and want to understand their family form as they grow. No Blame! Children usually love both parents regardless of wrong doings, mind them and enjoy them. Don’t make life hard for them.

If you found this post useful, you might also like to read 10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting. One Family offers a range of services to parents sharing parenting or parenting alone after separation. You can find out about them here. If you need support, information or advice, contact our lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 66 22 12 / support@onefamily.ie.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Understand How Your Child May Feel and 10 Ways to Problem Solving.

One Family offers a range of training opportunities for parents and for professionals on an on-going basis. To find out more, click here or call 01 662 9212.

Parents arguing

10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting

For many parents sharing parenting after separation, one parent is the ‘primary carer’ and the other spends their time with their child at weekends and holidays. As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of weekly parenting tips, here are our suggestions on minimising stress and helping both parents to focus on keeping the child at the centre of parenting.

10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting

  1. You will always be parents: no matter what happened in the adult relationship you will both still be the parents of your child. Allow each other to parent.
  2. Move on: get support to deal with what happened in the adult relationship and move on to a relationship which is focused on parenting your children.
  3. Communicate: it is not possible for you both to parent unless you work out how to both feel safe in communicating with each other.
  4. Parenting Agreement: work with professionals (such as our trained staff at One Family or other professional organisations) and get support to develop a parenting agreement.
  5. Respect: respect each other as parents of your child. Talk positively about the other parent to your child.
  6. Support your child: listen to your child, support them to have a relationship with both parents. They have a right to safe contact with both parents.
  7. Talk: allow your child to talk about how they feel. What is life like for them? Just listen and acknowledge what they are saying and how they are feeling
  8. Involve family: with very young children it is hard to let them go on contact visits. Try to have friends and family support you both until you feel confident the parent can manage. They may just need experience.
  9. Conflict: do not get into arguments in front of your child. Don’t talk about maintenance or other issues at handover times. Plan a time to talk when the child is not present and the impact will not affect your parenting later that day.
  10. Keep your child at the centre: it’s your child’s contact not yours. Support them to have it and to own it. Seek professional support to help with your feelings and anxieties over contact.

In cases where there is addiction, domestic violence or other similar challenges, please seek professional support before engaging in contact.

One Family offers a course to help people sharing parenting which you can find out about here. Yesterday we wrote about Coping with the End of a Relationship. You can also find additional One Family supports here or call our askonefamily helpline on lo-call 1890 662 212.

This episode of ’10 Ways to …’ was compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Enjoy School Breaks and 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training.