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

Water Charges | What You Told Us

Every month One Family invites a response to our short, 3 question survey. Our survey for September 2014 was in relation to the proposed water charges due to commence, at the time of writing, in January 2015. The aim of the survey was to find out how those parenting alone or sharing parenting feel about the charges and how they have been implemented to date.

A selection of survey responses include:

“I often skip dinner to ensure my son will have a dinner the next day. I am sick of counting slices of bread or watching in envy when someone gets to buy a newspaper. No idea where I am meant to find the money for another bill.”

“I live in an apartment and I still do not know how much I’ll have to pay. I can’t even budget or anticipate. My daughter spends 2 nights with her dad so don’t know if this will be taken into account or not. What if he was first with sending the pack to Irish Water and he claimed the allowance first?”

“I am a lone parent to 5 year old twin boys, stuck on rent allowance. I have a disability and I’ve recently had my heating cut off because I couldn’t afford the bill and now they want €220 to switch it back on which I can’t afford . Water charges will cripple this household altogether.”

“I am a single father with two young kids living with me nearly 50% of the time. I pay maintenance on top of this. I support them fully for 50% of the time and get no child benefit. The government have already taken a tax credit from me. This is an extra insult to single fathers like me. It is almost as if Fine Gael is deliberately making it too financially difficult for single fathers to co-parent.”

“I will have to reconsider working. I am a lone parent, I earn €450 per week. €110 a week rent, €120 a week childcare, other bills including electricity, broadband, mobile, heating, car expenses etc total €150. I have nothing left over and the water charges are the last straw for me. My job, which I love, may need to take a back seat.”

You can read the full Water Charges survey results here. Take this month’s survey on Reaction to Budget 2015 here, or view all of our monthly survey results.




one euro coin

askonefamily Budget 2015 Changes Summarised

There was little change in the Budget to address the needs of one-parent and shared parenting families in Ireland. However, the main rates of social welfare payments went unchanged and there was a small increase in Child Benefit rates for 2015. A small bonus for Christmas for recipients of many social welfare payments was also among the Budget 2015 announcements made today. askonefamily, our information service, summarises the key changes relevant to one-parent families below.

Summary of Relevant Budget 2015 Changes

Main social welfare payments rates (including One Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance Transition, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and others)

  • The rates of weekly payment will remain the same in 2015

Child Benefit

  • Increase of €5 per month, per child, from January 2015 to €135 a month, per child.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear

  • This payment is maintained in 2015

NEW***Christmas Bonus

  • Recipients of long term social welfare payments will receive a bonus payment of 25% of weekly payment this December 2014. This includes recipients of One Parent Family Payment, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition, Community Employment, Back to Work Allowance, Widow/Widower’s pension, Job Initiative and some others

NEW***Back to Work Family Dividend

  • For one-parent families and long term jobseeker families with children who find or return to work, they will be able to retain the Qualified Child Increase of €29.80 per child, per week, for 12 months and then 50% of the rate for a second year. This applies to employment and self-employment.  This Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) will be in addition to eligibility for Family Income Supplement (FIS) and will not affect the level of FIS payment.
  •  In order to be eligible for the BTWFD then a person must be coming off their main social welfare payment (One-Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition), in full and going into employment or self-employment.   A person who is already in employment and in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and who then increases their hours of employment to the point that they are no longer eligible for OFP because their earnings from work are in excess of €425 a week (gross) or who is no longer entitled to an OFP payment because of the age of their youngest child may then qualify for the BTWFD.  Applications will be open in January 2015.

NEW***Water Subsidy

  • For those in receipt of Fuel Allowance then an additional €100 a year will be paid as support towards water services. The Water Support payment will be paid at a rate of €25, four times a year for a total yearly payment of €100.  First payments will be issuing by the end of March 2015. If you have been awarded the Fuel Allowance then you will automatically receive the Water Support payment.


  • No increase in taxes on petrol or diesel or Motor tax

Income tax

  • Increase in the standard rate tax band for a single people from €32,800 to €33,800
  • Higher tax rate reduced from 41% to 40%

Universal Social Charge (USC)

  • The Universal Social Charge rates have been reduced; the 2% rate drops to 1.5% and the 4% rate drops to 3.5%
  • Entry point for paying USC going up from just over €10,000 to just over €12,000 in 2015


If you would like further clarification on any of Budget changes, contact askonefamily on 1890 66 22 12 or by email.

Government Promised to Make Work Pay but Budget 2015 Will Push More Vulnerable Families Out of Work

Press Release 

Government Promised to Make Work Pay

But Budget 2015 Will Push More Vulnerable Families Out of Work

(Dublin, Tuesday 14 October 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – today responds to Budget 2015 acknowledging the small increase in the universal child benefit and the partial reinstatement of a Christmas Bonus, yet noting that the failure to commit to retaining the Income Disregard level or provision of affordable accessible childcare prove that Government’s ears are still not fully open to the voices of Ireland’s one-parent and shared parenting families.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO explains: “Enda Kenny said that this Budget would be about building for the future. Yet thousands of one-parent families are denied that opportunity. Research shows that it is poverty, not family structure, that most impacts on outcomes for children. While the child benefit increase of €5 and the partial re-instatement of the Christmas Bonus may be welcomed by some parents, these are not cost-effective measures that will impact on poverty levels in any tangible manner without being tailored to respond to need. 53% of lone parents are in the labour force yet one-parent families remain those statistically most at risk of poverty.  Maintaining the Income Disregard would be an effective step towards making work pay, rather than forcing low and middle income families into the preposterous position of being less well-off when working.”

Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, states: “Let’s be absolutely clear. If Government wants to invest money to help working parents, tailored investment in education and not expensive one-size fits all activation measures is a way of doing that. Together, both the NGO sector and the Government could do a lot more at far less cost by improving access to part-time education. Government must recognise the importance of locally tailored services.”

One Family’s 10 Solutions campaign – 10 effective measures that Government could implement at low or no cost – have been partially listened to but not fully addressed meaning that the disastrous legacy of Budget 2012 will continue to entrap one-parent families in poverty.  With over 55,000 more lone parents being moved onto the live register by 2015, with little in place, more children will grow up in poverty.

Karen Kiernan continues: “One-parent families in working poverty and parents sharing parenting of their children have borne the brunt of spending cuts such as the changes to the Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit last year, and the ill-formed re-activation measures flagged in Budget 2012. Government should be doing everything it can to help poor children, not condemning more children to join them. There is no future in that.”


Available for Interview

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

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023




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 /

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.


Coping with the End of a Relationship

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 for details of the free Family Mediation Service in many locations around the country.
  5. 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 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

Further information is also available in the askonefamily section of this site.

Join our Budget 2015 Panel

Let your voice be heard! One Family is seeking willing participants to engage with our Budget 2015 Panel. The Budget Panel will consist of ten lone parents and/or parents sharing parenting who will collaborate with One Family throughout 2014.

Panel members will be encouraged to contribute their own lived experience and personal circumstances in order to enhance and parent proof One Family’s 2015 budget submission. We welcome expressions of interest from parents in a variety of circumstance, such as those in education or employment, in receipt of government supports, never married, separated, divorced etc. Ideally, they will be willing to engage with media and training will be provided. The panelists will work with us to produce a budget submission which reflects the lived reality for lone parents in Ireland.

Persons interested in taking part should:

  • Wish to articulate their opinions and be comfortable discussing core budget issues (housing, childcare etc.)
  • Currently live in Ireland – we hope to hear from people from both urban and rural areas
  • Be able to commit to a minimum of three hours per month (a mixture of phone and online engagement with occasional meetings) on a volunteer basis

Existing One Family Members are encouraged to participate though it is not not essential for a panelist to be a Member.

If you are interested in being a One Family Budget 2015 Panelist, please click here to email Valerie Maher for further information by midday on Friday 24th January 2014.

UPDATE: 31st January 2014 – The Budget Panel is now filled and we look forward to collaborating with its members throughout the year.

Attack on Parents Sharing Parenting After Separation is Unjust, Unfair and Underhand

Press Release

Attack on Parents Sharing Parenting After Separation

 is Unjust, Unfair and Underhand

(Dublin, Thursday 17 October 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, is deeply concerned by the removal of the One Parent Family tax credit and tax free allowance announced on Tuesday as part of Budget 2014 which will have disastrous and far-reaching consequences for separated Fathers and Mothers who share parenting of their children.

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy and Programmes at One Family states: “Claimants of the One Parent Family tax credit are working Mums and Dads who are committed, responsible parents participating in a successful arrangement with their child’s other parent for the well-being of their child. This is an in-work support and the kind of mechanism that needs to be in place to deliver Pathways to Work, a cornerstone initiative of the Government’s recovery programme. Ultimately it is children who will be impacted with less money to go round in already hard hit families.”

The One Parent Family tax credit of €1,650 was previously available to both working parents sharing parenting after separation. From 2014, it is being replaced by a Single Person’s Child Carer tax credit of €1,650 which will only be available to the parent in receipt of Child Benefit. As the principle carer is usually the child’s Mother, and she may not be working, these changes mean that in many cases neither parent will now meet the specified criteria.  Some parents may be at a loss of over €125 per month as a result of the removal of the one-parent family tax credit and the removal of the one-parent family tax rate.

Duffin continued: “One Family has a received a barrage of calls to the askonefamily helpline, plus emails and Facebook comments from worried parents who are already pushed to their limits. There is a lack of joined up thinking and policy between the Departments of Finance, Social Protection and Children & Youth Affairs as this government is penalising the good practice of shared parenting. One Family is actively calling for clarity and action to ensure that working parents don’t become welfare recipients.”

One Family warns Government that it must address implementation problems, otherwise this is going to create long-term challenges for parents.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, comments:  “We are calling on Government to reverse this decision and to reinstate the relevant tax credits to ensure that one-parent families who are still coping with the cuts of Budget 2012 are not pushed further into poverty. We are concerned that along with other government measures this will damage the objective of making work pay and more people will end up becoming customers of the Department of Social Protection as many fathers have told us they simply won’t be able to pay as much maintenance as they have been.”

Concerned parents can contact the lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 662 9212 and email

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • 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)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011)
  • Operational Challenges for Government to be addressed:
  1. If the principal carer is not working, can the allowance be claimed by the other parent?
  2. If the principal carer is not working and the allowance is claimed by the other parent, what happens when the principal carer returns to work?
  3. What about parents who share care 50/50?
  4. How will this be managed for parents who are already in dispute with each other following separation?
  5. Can clear provisions be made for flexibilities such as splitting the credit between working parents; and making it available to the working parent, usually the Father, who is often classed as ‘secondary carer’.

Available for Interview

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023

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

For Case Studies, Further Information/Scheduling

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


Updates following Budget 2014

One Family has summarised the announcements of Budget 2014 in relation to a number of areas of relevance to people parenting alone or sharing parenting.

Budget 2014

People parenting alone and sharing parenting

Changes to Social Welfare payments for 2014

Basic rate of payment The weekly rate of payment is staying the same in 2014 for all weekly social welfare payments for those of working age and pensioners. No change.
One Parent Family Payment There will be no change to the rate of payment in 2014.

For those in employment the new rate of income disregard of €90 a week will be introduced in 2014, reduced from €110 in 2013. This means that the first €90 of earnings will be ignored and half of the remainder of earnings will be assessed to give a new rate of One Parent Family Payment.

No change.


Income Disregard reduced.

Child Benefit The rate remains at €130 and this will be for each child, as announced in December 2012. No change.
Maternity Benefit The rate of payment will be standardised at €230 for new claimants; this is a change from a maximum payment of €262 and a minimum of €217.80. The change will come into effect from January 2014. Payment standardised.
Fuel Allowance Rate of payment will remain and there is no reduction in the number of weeks. No change.

Secondary Payments

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Unchanged for all children under 18. In 2014 it will be paid for those aged 18 and over in secondary school but not for those in third level education. No longer payable to children in third level education.
Fuel Allowance It will remain at €20 a week for the 26 weeks. No change.
Rent Supplement No changes announced for single people with children but an increase in contribution for couples, from €35 to €40 weekly. No change for single people with children.
Mortgage Interest Supplement This scheme will be closed to new entrants and will be wound down over a four year period from January 2014 for existing recipients. Closed to new entrants and winding down.

One Parent Families in Work

Family Income Supplement Household income thresholds remain at 2013 levels. No change.
Income Tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge Unchanged in 2014. No change.
One Parent Family Tax Credit This is being replaced by a Single Person’s Child Carer tax credit of the same value – €1,650 – only available to the principal carer. This tax credit of €1,650 was previously available to both working parents sharing parenting. Now only one parent – the principal carer – can avail of it.

One Family is actively clarifying a number of questions and concerns this change raises and will update in more detail as soon as possible.


GP Visits Free GP care for children aged 5 and under announced. Free GP care for children aged 5 and under announced.
Medical Card Prescription charges increase from €1.50 to €2.50 for medical card holders. Prescription charge increased to €2.50.
Third Level Students The student contribution charge for third-level institutions will increase by €250 to €2,750 – increases by €250 until it reaches €3,000 in 2015. Increased.
Primary School Books A further €5m to be allocated to extend the books-to-rent in primary schools. Increased.