Parenting Tips | Learn to self-care


Everyone has bad days with children, days when we don’t handle situations well, days when we want to scream and run out the door. It is normal to a certain extent to feel this way. Parenting is the hardest job in the world at times, and the most unrecognised and unsupported. When doing it on your own it can be even more difficult as you don’t have someone who can take over when you feel you need a break.

The lead up to Christmas can pile on additional stress. Our heads can be full of so many issues that when the children start to act up, it can be the final straw. Usually the children are more challenging because they know and feel that you are not present for them. They have needs which are not being met and they don’t know how to tell you about how they feel. All they know is how to act it out.

It is important to put measures in place to help you recognise when you are starting to neglect your own care. We offer ’10 ways to’ care for yourself as a parent:

  1. Learn to recognise your levels of stress. Take time each day to reflect on how you are feeling.
  2. Try to identify things that went well each day, no matter how small they are.
  3. Try not to give all your energy to what is going wrong. Explore who can help you, what steps can you take.
  4. Make a list of the issues you need to resolve. Try to be less critical of yourself. Name the things you are good at, focus on these.
  5. Create time to think and plan – can children go on play dates to allow this happen for you?
  6. Talk with your children about what is going on and help them to form a plan with you. Hear what it is like for them.
  7. Don’t give up. Your children need you and no one can replace you. You need to believe that you are the right person to parent your children.
  8. Join a parenting group to get support from other parents and learn new skills and knowledge which will help you understand your children.
  9. Identify your needs. Where are the gaps? You will need to be creative in finding ways to meet these needs. By parenting yourself you will be able to parent your children.
  10. Seek professional support if you feel really low. Call theaskonefamily helpline to talk with someone. Talking can usually help you understand what is going wrong and what changes you can make. Seek support from your GP or contact your local social worker if you feel you need support around mental health, addiction or abuse.

Remember, there are people out there who can and want to support you to parent. Ask for the support if you can. It does not make you a poor parent if you need to get support from others. Nobody can parent on their own, being brave enough to ask for help and support is what makes you a great parent as you recognise that you and your children need help.

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.

For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email


Parenting | Talking to young children about death

loving-1207568_1920We want to protect our children from hurt and trauma in life but death is as much a part of life as living is. In order to prepare children for life we must prepare and support them to understand and feel comfortable with death. This week, we offer ’10 ways’ to approach the subject of death and ways to support your child when they experience loss:

  1. Dealing with the loss of a pet, such as a goldfish, can be a way to introduce coping mechanisms. Have a light-hearted ceremony of some kind to remember the happy smiles the goldfish brought to the family. Children will handle this in many different ways: some will be fascinated with the science attached to it while others could be in tears for a week.
  2. In the case of a family bereavement, remember that the child has also experienced a loss. They may realise, for the first time, that we do not have everything in our lives forever. They will need support to understand how they are feeling. They may have a very great sense of sadness and loneliness over the loss and it may be the first time they have had this feeling. It is important to reassure them that this is normal and that it will pass.
  3. It is important to nurture them and give them comfort and solace. They will have questions for a long time and this is natural. We all have questions when someone dies. With your support children can cope with death and understand what has happened
  4. It is really important to allow children to experience a family bereavement. They should be included in what is happening to the family. If you try to totally shield your child from the loss they will sense that something has happened and be left with a very worried, empty, anxious feeling. Hiding the truth or excluding your child can cause a break in trust between you and your child.
  5. Allow your child to see that you are upset too. Children will be more confused if you tell them that you are okay when they know that you are not. Remember, children observe everything. Tell them that you feel sad about what has happened. Reassure them that it is okay for everyone to be really sad and that in time things will change again.
  6. Allow your child see the person who has died if they were close to them. Arrange a time when it is quiet for them to come and view the body. This will help your child to understand the permanent nature of death. While they might be initially afraid of the stillness of the body, they will remember that they loved this person dearly. Reassure your child that they are not really there any longer so they won’t be lonely, scared and lost in the box, as some children imagine they are. Telling children that someone has gone to sleep or gone to the sky is almost impossible for a child to understand. You can talk with your child about the spirit of the person if you wish and if this is something you believe but you must be careful that they are able to understand the concept.
  7. The funeral can really support your child to say goodbye just like it allows others to say goodbye. You may also need to do more than this with your child depending on whom it is that died. You can then have a special day each year with them where they decide how best they want to celebrate this person’s memory.
  8. Encourage your child to talk openly about the person who has died. It may take at least six months to recover from the initial shock and up to three years to accept that life is now different but that life will, and does, go on. If you feel after six months that your child is not coping very well with the death then it may be time to seek professional support such as Rainbows Ireland.  They offer free bereavement support for children and young people throughout Ireland.
  9. It can be helpful to create a special book, with pictures and memories of your departed loved, to help your children to remember them.
  10. It is really important that you as a parent seek support if you need to. You won’t be able to support your child if you neglect your own needs. It is very hard to cope with grief so don’t be shy about asking for help.

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.

For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email



Training | New Professional Development Workshops in Sligo and Limerick

One Family is pleased to announce two new half-day workshops for professionals who work with families, parents and/or children:

1. Supporting Families in Conflict-Reducing Communication.

This workshop explores how to build skills to support parents in practicing clear and direct communication in relation to common family dilemmas; using a non-violent communication framework; identifying communications styles; understanding the connection between needs and choices of behaviour; exploring the benefits and disadvantages of conflict within relationships and families; and more. Workshop places will be limited to twenty people, as they will be facilitated in a participatory workshop style, which actively engages participants.

2. Supporting Separating Parents to Successfully Share Parenting.

This solution-focussed workshop will explore ways in which parents can be supported to talk with children about family change after a separation. It will enable professionals working with parents to support them in identifying the sometimes competing needs that are priorities for parents and children during the process of separation. It will explore behaviours a child may exhibit when needs are not met during a period of emotional transition, and support practitioners with the language to help parents talk with children about the concerns they have during separation. The workshop will explore moving on after separation, and what shared parenting really means. It will equip practitioners with knowledge of parenting plans which can hugely support parents to develop and agree a way forward to parent positively. It will also explore some myths of shared parenting, and examine the advantages of shared parenting for parents and children.

commsOne Family has provided specialist family support services to diverse families since 1972 and understands the needs of professionals working with one-parent families, people who share parenting, and those experiencing separation. If you are a family support worker, social worker, youth worker, family therapist, educator, drugs project worker or counsellor, or deliver parenting/family supports and courses, our professional development programmes will help you to build on your skills, knowledge and approach.

Facilitated by Geraldine Kelly, our Director of Children & Parenting Services, Supporting Families in Conflict-Reducing Communication is booking now for Sligo on 29 November and Supporting Separating Parents to Successfully Share Parenting is booking now for Limerick on 2 December.

Registration details and further information can be found here.

Dad and child's hands

Press Release | Budget 2017 – Partial Reversals of OFP Reforms Welcomed but it is Not Enough

Press Release

Budget 2017 – One Family Welcomes

Partial Reversals of OFP Reforms

New Government has made a start but it is not yet enough

(Dublin, Tuesday 11 October 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – welcomes the announcements of improved childcare supports, the €5 increases to the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Back to Education Allowance, increases in the Income Disregard level for the OFP and Jobseeker’s Transition (JST) rates, and the Cost of Education Allowance; but reacts overall to Budget 2017 as a missed opportunity to strategically support vulnerable one-parent families.  All the recommendations from the recent NUIG report on Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context must be fully implemented particularly given the enormously high poverty rates experienced by these families: almost 60% of individuals from these households experience one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2014).

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “We’ve long been calling for a restoration of income disregards and welcome this rise from €90 to €110 per week, along with some other long overdue announcements, but a full restoration to €146.50 per week is needed to support lone parents in work.  And again we see no cohesive attempt to break down the barriers that one-parent families in receipt of social welfare payments still face, and nothing to acknowledge those who share parenting. Lone parents with children over 14 are still subject to full Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) conditionality and in particular, a much harsher means testing of additional income despite the recent CSO release from Q2 showing that employment rates have dropped for lone parents with children aged 12-17. There has been no change to Family Income Support (FIS) criteria such as the hours reduction we have called for, a most simple and cost-effective way to support parents to access employment.

“People parenting alone want to contribute to society through employment, they want to further their education and get out of living in poverty, but are caught in the trap of week to week survival. This Budget may make some difference for some families, but after so many years of consistent deprivation, is this enough? Not yet. It is not enough to fully tackle the unacceptable reality of lone parents and their children being amongst the poorest in our society today. Cross-Departmental work to reverse cuts more positively is essential to ensure that the damage done over the past five years is reversed. The recipe for what is needed is in the NUIG research, and in our Pre-Budget Submission, and it must be fully implemented.”

Karen continues: “What is needed to lift these families out of poverty is not a mystery. Simply, we need targeted financial supports for poor children and investment in services; a childcare system that is accessible to poor children and families and available outside of school hours; a defined education pathway for people parenting alone; the ability to make work pay through in-work supports; and a system that can be clearly understood and is less complicated, both to payment recipients and the Department’s own staff in local offices, so that lone parents can trust that they will receive the support and guidance that is best for their families.”

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017 included recommendations designed to support lone parents into education and/or employment, while acknowledging their parenting responsibilities. There is now a golden opportunity for Government  to give hope to disadvantaged one-parent families, through following the NUIG research recommendations, and through working with and listening to the mine of evidence and experience being put forward by One Family and other organisations. Every parent must have an equal opportunity to create a better future for his or her children.


  • NUIG released Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context, commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, co-authored by Dr Michelle Millar and Dr Rosemary Crosse of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, in September 2016.
  • One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be read here.
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is 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)
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households in the state (EU-SILC 2014).
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 60% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2014).
  • 42,104 people are now receiving the One-Parent Family Payment. There are now 75,202 child dependents of One-Parent Family Payment recipients.
  • Of the approximately 25,500 customers who exited the OFP scheme on 2 July, 2015, the majority of customers transitioned to the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment, the Jobseeker’s Allowance payment and the Family Income Supplement. – 13,600 (or 54%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST); – 2,500 (or 10%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme, and – 8,100 (or 32%) of them moved to the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme.


About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and 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 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today ( For further information, visit

Available for Interview:

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information or to arrange an interview:

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

Parenting | How to resolve issues with teachers

When issues with your child arise in schoolstudent-1647136_1280 it is important that you, as their parent, are notified. The teacher or principal may contact you to address the issue if they feel it warrants attention but in other cases it may be your child who has an issue with a teacher and comes to you.

When the latter occurs, you can be at a disadvantage as you are emotionally involved in the issue. How you communicate with the teacher or principal is an important factor in resolving issues fairly and promptly for all. Here are ’10 ways’ to support you to resolve your child’s issues with authority figures in school:

  1. When your child tells you of an incident in the school with their teacher, or any school figure, you must sit with your child and hear the full story. Understand the context in which it happened. Ask them to clarify when, and where, it happened and how they felt about it at the time. Talk with them about how they are feeling now.
  2. Only get involved if your child feels they need your support. Try writing a letter to the teacher and request a follow-up meeting. Let your child know that you are going to contact their teacher or principal. Ask them how they feel about this.
  3. While you can become involved, your child also needs to be able to talk to their teacher about what they are not happy or comfortable with in that teacher’s approach.
  4. If your child behaved very poorly stand up and acknowledge this. You are doing them no favours otherwise. Your child should always be treated fairly and with respect and should return this respect to their teacher.
  5. Hearing the other side is important as is getting the school figure to hear your child’s side of the story. If your child has been hurt by the school’s approach, they need to know that fact in order for any change to take place. Let the teacher or principal know that you want to understand the full story and you are prepared to work with them to achieve change.
  6. Ensure that you are not emotionally charged. Think about what you need to say and how you need to say it. Clear and direct communication is the key to assertive communication. Using ‘I’ statements are to be avoided (“I think, I know, I feel, I am etc.) as the tone of these can suggest you are blaming or condemning another person’s actions and conflict is the most likely outcome.
  7. In order to support our children to stand up for themselves and communicate assertively we need to strive to be role models for them. We need to champion them at all times. We need to stand tall beside them and support them. If we don’t support children to speak up and seek the right to be treated with respect they will not know they have this right as they mature into adults.
  8. If you have taken every step to positively engage with the teacher/principal and they are not interested in engaging with you then you need to engage with the board of management. Schools are there to provide a service to children and parents and at times they may need extra resources and support from their board to do this. The board need to be informed if issues cannot be resolved.
  9. Never hide abuse or intimidation in schools. Bring another parent with you if you feel your voice is not strong enough to talk with a teacher. Most teachers welcome parents coming to them with issues when they first happen before they escalate. Do not approach teachers in front of other parents or children. Give them the respect you are seeking for you and your child.
  10. During the course of the meeting, if you really feel that you cannot be supported, then leave. Go home and think about this again. Think about the language you have used and explore if you can change anything in your approach. Talk with a parent from the parent teacher council in confidence. Review the school policies and then try again.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Join the One Family Parenting Group online here


Parenting | How to support your child when they struggle to fit in

left-out-624736_1280I often meet parents who tell me “My child really dislikes school because they feel that they don’t fit in”, or “My child wants to be part of this group of children in school but they have been left out.”

When children move into primary school the main aim they have is to make friends. We may think school is about education, and of course it is, but children also learn about relationships. Children who enjoy school usually name seeing their friends as their number one reason for liking school.

As adults we know we don’t have to follow the crowd, we can be our own person. But we also know “no man is an island” − we cannot live in isolation. We need to be part of relationships and part of groups. Here, we offer ’10 ways’ to support your child if they are finding it difficult to fit in:

  1. Unfortunately, the choices we make as parents can affect how well our children fit in. For example, when my daughter was about nine years old she asked me for a mobile phone. Initially I refused until she said to me “Mum, do you want me to be a geek or do you want me to have friends?” After that I did explore all the options around how I could facilitate her to have a phone rather than impose a blanket ban on phones. I realised it would be possible to manage as her main aim was to stay part of the group − she didn’t particularly care about the phone.
  2. Support your child to form friendships by connecting with other parents. For children, parents are very much responsible for choosing what groups they will be part of. Encourage your child to join an activity that children from school attend. This will give you an opportunity to meet parents and children. Once you start to meet the other parents you can form relationships and make play dates.
  3. Invite different children over for play dates. Do not get into a pattern of choosing the same child each time. (Read our top tips on play dates here.)
  4. Watch your child with other children and try to identify what they struggle with. For example, if you notice your child watches other children play but doesn’t join in, ask them what stopped them from joining in. Encourage them to participate by telling them how clever they are, how funny they are, and how much you enjoyed playing with them.
  5. Try to be honest in watching your child’s encounters with others. They are learning to socialise and they may have developed some behaviours that other children don’t like. It is better to recognise and name these behaviours and support your child with them as it will allow them to move on and form friendships in the future. You can still think your child is the most wonderful in the world but that doesn’t mean they have it all figured out.
  6. Help your child find their voice. If you think your child is shy, help them to find a way to interact with other children. They need to be able to approach other children and become involved in the game. Children can be very bossy and if your child is not familiar with someone telling them what to do they may shy away from this. Role play different scenarios and help them to find the words to engage with children in different situations.
  7. Your child doesn’t have to be friends with everyone but they should feel comfortable to engage with everyone in the class. Young children move around friends so don’t expect them to remain friends with one particular child. It is not that they are not loyal, it is because they are exploring and learning. They will have a range of needs that are met by different children and they will move in and out of these needs.
  8. All children are coming from different homes with siblings, younger and older or none. They all have different skill sets to bring with them to school so don’t let your child feel they have nothing to offer or that other children are better than them. Help them to see their talents and skills. Every child has an abundance of them. Be creative with your child in pointing them out and help them to name their own talents.
  9. Confidence can prevent children from joining in so support your child in this area. A few knock backs can greatly reduce confidence so don’t ignore it. Name what you see in your child and make time to talk with them about it. Work on it at home and talk with the school if you ever suspect bullying.
  10. Monitor your behaviour too. You can only bring your child’s confidence to the same level as your own. Exploring your own needs will also support your child on their journey.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.



Parenting | How to make day trips run smoothly

llama-935947_1920How many times have you taken your children on a day trip and five minutes after you arrive, or five minutes into the car trip, you feel like saying, “That’s it! We are going home.” We put time, energy and costs into organising days out, yet it can sometimes seems that your children just don’t care.

The stress of organising the event can leave you exhausted and with little energy to deal with what might be normal everyday behaviours. It becomes something bigger and you may be inclined to overreact. Coupled with this, children can be more excitable on days out. The excitement will make it harder for them to manage their emotions and behaviour. They can’t stop fighting and they won’t do what you ask of them.

Teens, on the other hand, may show no excitement. They may be so difficult to motivate, you wonder why you bothered. Feeling disheartened, you just want to go home and cry or maybe stomp about the house to let them know how angry or upset you are. The day out was not just for the children, it was for you too and you feel disappointed: you wanted this time out to relax and have fun with your children.

There are steps you can take to make things go a little smoother so the fun days out are fun from the time you wake up. Read our “10 ways to” have enjoyable days out this summer:

  1. Keep it simple. Think about what your child can cope with. If they are not use to travelling too far then don’t plan a long trip. No matter how good you think the far away venue may be, it may not be worth it. This goes for holidays too.
  2. Tell your child about the trip in advance. Some children love surprises but many don’t. If they are not aware of what is about to happen it can really upset them. Keep as many elements the same for them as possible: eat at the same times and eat the same types of food.
  3. Talk with your child about what you expect of them on the day out. Try to come up with some ways of keeping them safe but still allowing them some freedom.
  4. Dress children for play and not for photos. Too many children are over-dressed on play days out. Let them get dirty, have fun, roll in the sand. They shouldn’t come home clean; it is not a good sign! Bring spare clothes, bring the wipes and try not to worry.
  5. Dress appropriately yourself. Wearing your lovely white trousers may not be the best idea. It is all about fun, so dress in a way that supports you to relax and enjoy your time with your children.
  6. Photographs can cause lots of trouble. Take them if you can but making children pose can create stress for no reason. Fun days out will create memories in a child’s mind. They don’t need photos to have those memories. You can keep other things from the day and stick them in a scrap book to remind you of the day.
  7. If problems arise, stay calm. Think about it from your child’s point of view. Take a break, sit down for a minute and make a plan. Think about what is causing the problem. Are we hungry, are we tired? Whose needs are not been met? Can I do anything? The least you can do is acknowledge the need, if you can’t meet it at that time acknowledging it helps. If you can identify the problem and solve it things will improve.
  8. Allow them to cry; it doesn’t mean you have to leave. There are parents all around you. They know how hard it is. If you can stay calm your child will feel it and they will relax.
  9. Following on from that, stop worrying about who is watching. We put too much pressure on ourselves as parents to perform perfectly all of the time. Be the best parent you can and try not to let others knock your confidence.
  10. Do it more often!

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Your newly confident five-year-old

people-70979_1280It is amazing to look back after your child’s first year in school and see how they have grown in confidence. However, along with this new found confidence comes a good dose of cheekiness. They have truly found their voice and will no longer conform. Now, when you ask them to tidy their room you may get a very clear, “No, I am busy!”. When you ask them not to strangle their younger sibling they reply, “They hit me first!”.

You might be relieved that they are getting school holidays, presuming that it is the influence of bold children in school that has turned them into somewhat of a naughty terror. However, it may not be fair to blame the influence of other children; your five-year-old has had ten months of daily mingling with the world and they have realised that they can do things for themselves. Every day they have been encouraged to sort things out for themselves in the classroom and in the yard. They have watched and they have learned. They have discovered they can survive without their parents with them all the time. They are strong, they have skills and, for sure, have their voices that we hear loud and clear at home.

Children should have the safety of home to say no, to test the boundaries and to stand up for themselves. As parents our role is to help them understand the rules of play, of negotiation and respect for others, including their parents.

Here are some tips to help you get started over the summer months:

  1. Welcome your child’s new found confidence. Tell them how great it is to hear them voice their thoughts.
  2. Talk with them about how they can say what they are thinking in a respectful way.
  3. Help them to figure out ways of dealing with anger that doesn’t inflict hurt on others.
  4. Ask them what rules they think should be in place in the house. Get them to help you write down some house rules that all the family can stick to.
  5. Talk with them about how confidence is a good thing, how we all need to say no at times and how this has created positive change in the world. Maybe you can think of some local heroes or ones from fiction or history to help children see how this is a talent they are developing and one they should use wisely.
  6. Talk with children about negotiation. We don’t always want to do what we are asked to do, and neither do they, so encourage them to negotiate with you to reach agreements.
  7. Help your child to understand that families and community, just like in the classroom, need co-operation. If we can all agree to do something, even if we don’t particularly like doing it, then we can move onto something more enjoyable.
  8. Stay calm when your child shouts demands at you. If you get into a shouting match with them they will win because you will feel guilty later. Tell them, in a calm voice, that you need to move away until they are ready to talk. Acknowledge that they are angry or upset, or whatever emotion it is you detect. Never ignore their emotions. When they calm down, thank them for doing that and start over. No sulking!
  9. Every time your child uses their talents, tell them how great it is to be developing these skills. Our job is to sand off the rough edges of these skills. Support and encourage them. You want strong and vibrant children.
  10. Look after yourself. Give yourself some break time so that you will have the patience to parent. This way you can support your child to gain control of all these skills and talents that are emerging.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Your teenager’s summer of freedom

youth-570881_1280This summer a whole new set of parents will experience, for the first time, their young teens at home and off school for three whole months. Teens will be so excited, but many parents may be questioning the logic of the Department of Education and their annual three month holiday for teenagers. They are still very young so they have to be monitored and cared for but how can you do this for three months and hold down a job?

Here are ’10 ways to’ support you and your teen to have an enjoyable summer:

  1. Firstly, do not panic. You have worked hard preparing your child for life. This freedom is the first real test of how responsible they can be. It may be absolutely necessary to leave them at home for part of the day while you get to work. Talk with them about keeping safe without causing fear. When they are at home go over safety rules with them. Make sure they answer their phone and check in with you. Ask them to call you if they are going out or if anyone comes over. This way at least you are aware of what is happening.
  2. It is all about demonstrating responsible behaviour. Once you see them act in this way it will support you to move forward. If they cannot be trusted alone, you will need to look at childcare options for them. They will not like having to go to a minder but if they are not capable of being home alone for a period of time you have no choice for now. Let them moan that you are being over protective and don’t trust them, that is to be expected.
  3. Aside from childminding options, check in with their friends’ parents. There are likely to be some parents at home at times. If you arrange teen dates, it could work well for everyone. Parents rather young people hang out in small groups. Talk directly to the parents yourself about any plans.
  4. Talk with relatives and see if they can go on holidays to anyone for a few days, here and there. It is good for them to get to know cousins and other relatives a little better. It would also give them some added independence to do this without you. I am sure you can return the favour at some stage.
  5. Encourage your teen to make a plan of action for the summer. What do they enjoy? Can they participate in sports, join a book club or some hobby group? Three months would be great opportunity for them to really pursue an activity they enjoy when they have time to do it. It would get them up and out of the house and keep them busy and motivated.
  6. Allow your teens to rest. Try to accept that teens are different to adults. They like to sleep late in the day, watch TV, listen to music, spend all day on their phone and sit in their pyjamas until dinner time. They can’t get a job yet so they have the luxury for a very short period in their life to enjoy doing nothing. Once they maintain the boundaries and the rules of the home they are not harming anyone. Of course they should also help with household chores as usual. Allow them dictate a little what they would like to do.
  7. Talk with them about what is appropriate for them to do and where they can hang out. Think about allowing them to travel on the bus alone, if you have not done so yet. It is scary to allow your child such freedom but unless you give them responsibilities you cannot expect them to learn. You prepare them for life by adding responsibilities layer by layer. You also get braver each day as you see them cope and make positive choices.
  8. It is not a good idea at this age to give teens the responsibility of looking after younger children. Be cautious and know that teens do not always have the patience and tolerance required to manage younger children. It may be a step too far to leave them home alone together. It may be better to look at other options around caring for younger children.
  9. Take time out with your teen this summer if you can. Get to know them as young people heading quickly towards adulthood. In a few years they will most likely have jobs and busier social lives, and parents will be far from important in their lives. Enjoy your last few summers with them.
  10. Try to think back to when you were their age. Don’t nag them and worry that their brains will freeze up over the summer with the lack of use. They will most likely be fine.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Events | Social Group Summer Outings


Are you a lone parent who would like the opportunity to meet other people parenting alone or sharing parenting after separation? Would you like your children to interact with others of the same age? Then join us this summer on any of our Social Group Summer Outings for a fun and affordable day out for your family. See below for more details.

  1. Airfield Estate & Pet Farm UPDATE: This outing is now booked out.

When: Thursday 17th of August

Meet at: Airfield, Overend Way, Dundrum, Dublin 14

Time: Meet at entrance @11am sharp

Cost: €5 per adult/parent


  1. Dublin Zoo UPDATE: This outing is now booked out.

When: Thursday 24th of August

Meet at: Dublin Zoo

Time: Meet at Group Entrance Gate @ 11am sharp

Cost: €5 per person

Children 3 years and under are Free


How to book

To join us, email Margareth Petroli or call 01 662 9212. Mention the outing you would like to attend, provide your name and contact number and the names and ages of your children.

These social group outings are open to anyone who is parenting alone, and One Family subsidises costs so that they are free or low-cost for families attending. As capacity is limited, places will first be allocated to current clients of One Family if demand is very high. Please note, if you are not currently a client of One Family, you will be asked to complete a registration form.

Visit One Family on Facebook for updates on each event.