Parenting | Talking to your daughter about her first period

girl-648121_1280Most women will remember when the subject of their period was first broached, usually by their mum or an older female relative. You may recall a fumbling two minute explanation that raised more questions than it answered or perhaps you were given a confident explanation and felt well informed and prepared afterwards. Chances are your ‘period chat’ fell somewhere in the middle. Dads won’t have these memories to draw upon but that doesn’t necessarily put you at a disadvantage when talking to your daughter. The important thing to remember surrounding the subject of periods, and other issues around puberty, is that your daughter feels she can talk to you about it; you are acknowledging that she is maturing into a young woman. Here are some tips around talking to your daughter about getting her first period:

  1. The age at which girls have their first period can vary from 10-years-old to 15-years-old. Girls need to have this chat with parents early on in case they are an early developer. Most of the time, parents will notice that their daughters are developing so they are prompted to explain about periods. Don’t leave it too late, it is important to have the chat in advance of her first period.
  2. Girls who live with mum will have noticed that their mum has a period so the subject will not be a total surprise. Many girls will have spoken to their friends about periods and may have information from friends who have older sisters. It is important that they have the correct information and not just school-yard gossip.
  3. Make a date with your daughter and do something special with her. Talk to her about how much she is growing up and how responsible she is becoming.
  4. In school, many children will follow the Stay Safe Programme in which they talk about their bodies and what they are capable of. Many 10-year-olds know where babies come from so in order to explain periods you need to explain a little more about babies. Fertility is the key message when it comes to periods.
  5. Children like information and they like to know how and why their bodies work as they do. Books can be very useful.  Explain how women and girls creates eggs (ovulate) and what happens to these eggs each month. Don’t make it so complicated that your child will be horrified by the content. Keep it simple but precise and factual. Help your daughter to to see how fascinating it is.
  6. Take them to the shops and show them the different feminine hygiene/sanitary products available and purchase a packet for them to have for the first time. Encourage them to have sanitary products in their schoolbag for emergencies as you don’t know when the first time will be.
  7. Ensure that sanitary products are bought in the weekly groceries. Encourage them to talk openly about periods. Periods do not need to be a hidden part of life although they are private.
  8. Some girls might be horrified at the thought of menstruating and horrified by their period when it occurs. It can take a few years for girls to adjust and become independent around managing their period.
  9. Girls may need pain relief so support them with this but also encourage them to know that life goes on. Try not to allow them to have time off school or activities as this can create a lifelong pattern. Moods can change also so they will need support to manage their emotions.
  10. In common with other aspects of parenting it is about being brave and supporting your child. Whether you are a dad or a mum raising a young girl you should take on the responsibility of informing your daughter about her period. It will give you a special space in your daughter’s life where they know they can talk to you and trust you with their deepest worries and issues.

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


Lone Parents Forced Out of Workforce – One Family Supports New St Vincent De Paul Report

Press Release

Government Claims to Have Protected ‘Most Vulnerable’

yet One-Parent Families are Poorer When Working 

One Family supports today’s St Vincent De Paul report findings 

(Dublin, Monday 22 September 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting – welcomes the St  Vincent De Paul report published today which recognises that being a lone parent is one of the hardest survival situations in the State. One Family’s 42 years of experience delivering expert services to those parenting alone and sharing parenting helps to strengthen the SVP message.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO explains: “The devastating impact of Budget 2012 means that those parenting alone have been living a financially precarious life.  Today’s child and family poverty statistics highlight the inconvenient truths for Government; that maintaining the value of social security support helps protect families with children from poverty, and that work isn’t working for far too many families. The government may claim to have protected the ‘most vulnerable’ but there are thousands of lone parents and their children living in desperate circumstances. We must move on from attacking those parenting alone to addressing real needs.”

Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, highlights: “The stark evidence we collate on an on-going basis – from callers to our national askonefamily helpline and responses to our monthly survey – illustrate unequivocally that survival for our families in low-paid or no employment is balanced on a knife edge. This is because the support they get from the State is continuing to decline in real terms, while the barriers to returning to the workplace remain insurmountable for so many. If items such as food, social housing and childcare continue to become more expensive, these families’ overall incomes cannot keep up.”

Lone parents are being forced out of employment. One Family has heard from working lone parents who, with the changes being implemented from Budget 2012, have had a net income reduction of €200 per week. The ongoing reduction of the income disregard – the amount a lone parent in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment can earn without a reduction in supports as they transition into employment – from €146.50 to €60 per week is working against Government policy. This reduction means that it is no longer financially viable for many to work which is the opposite of what Government claimed to set out to do – support lone parents into employment.  Although 53% of lone parents are in the labour force, one-parent families remain those statistically most at risk of poverty.  This cannot be justified.

Stuart Duffin further comments: “This isn’t just about balancing the high cost of housing, childcare and energy: it includes a family’s need to be part of society, by being able to participate in things many take for granted, such as buying a small birthday present or taking the children swimming on occasion. Government needs to square-up to in-work poverty. ”

One Family’s 10 Solutions to Government address this as a matter of urgency. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty.  Current policies mean that Ireland risks seeing more poor children becoming poor adults. This is catastrophic for their life chances and the public purse.

Click here to read One Family’s monthly survey results. The St Vincent De Paul report can be read here.

One Family’s demands for Budget 2015 are:

  1. Work must pay and be seen to pay.
  2. The proposed parental dividend must work in conjunction with an up-rated income disregard.
  3. Those parenting alone must have equal access to all of the government activation measures, such as MOMENTUM and access to free part-time education to help raise their labour market skills base.
  4. Comprehensive provision and support for Out Of School Childcare and Recreation (OSCAR). Currently, the new child care provision (ASCCS) only lasts for 12 months, is not available for existing workers and does not take into account existing childcare relationships.
  5. The Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit discriminates against those sharing parenting – most often against Fathers, in effect – and thus must recognise the realities of contemporary Irish family life.


About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families 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 62 22 12, 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, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

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



Happy child

10 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Self Esteem

Children are a wonderful gift, but they are very delicate and it is often easy for them to feel unappreciated or ignored. As parents, it is very important to make sure our children are growing up happy and confident, and to do that we must make sure they feel special, appreciated, and loved. By recognising their accomplishments and encouraging them to be proud of themselves, we can help them to develop confidence and a sense of achievement that will last them the rest of their lives. In this week’s edition of parenting tips, we highlight 10 ways to improve your child’s self esteem.

1. Children who have lots of positive experiences and positive things said to them will have healthy levels of self esteem, as opposed to children who have many negative experiences growing up.

2. Children need to be recognised and admired. They are important to us and important in the world. Tell them this!

3. Praise children for the efforts they make. The focus should not be on the end result. Children remember praise and it has long-lasting effects.

4. Compliment children on their appearance, how they are doing at school, with friends and with hobbies. Every child is special and should know this.

5. Notice your children’s strengths and tell them what they are. Help them understand how to use those strengths well.

6. Show your child you are so proud of them and the effort they make – to play, to share, to eat dinner etc.

7. Have special time with your child each day and let them know they are top of your list. The feeling of self worth will be enormous.

8. Encourage children to be proud of their own achievements.

9. Encourage children to be open about what strengths they have and also that we all can’t be good at everything. Help them accept they are human, and it is normal to have strengths and weaknesses.

10. Be respectful of children. Talk with them, not at them. Listen to them and hear what they are trying to say. Understand their behaviours and why they exist rather than trying to just fix them. Admire their qualities, even those which are challenging can be used in positive ways throughout life. Accept your child for who they are and tell them everyday how much you love and admire them.

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Sex Education; 10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights; 10 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating.

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

Image credit: Pixabay

Has your One Parent Family payment ended?

Some people will no longer qualify for the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) from 4 July 2013. If you are getting no other payment you may qualify for other income supports. A Jobseeker’s Allowance transition payment is available, which aims to support lone parents with children under 14 years of age back into the workforce. You need to make a new claim for these payments.

If you are working and are already getting a Family Income Supplement (FIS) your FIS payment will automatically increase when your OFP ends. This will partially make up for the loss of the OFP.

If you are unsure of what you can access and are struggling financially, please call our askonefamily Lo-call Helpline on 1890 662 212 or email us.


1.    Q. My payment is due to end in July as my youngest child is 18, can I avail of the Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition scheme?

A:  No, the Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition scheme will only apply to those whose youngest child is under 14 so if you are applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance you will be subject to the full conditionality of being available for and genuinely seeking full time work.

2.    Q. My payment is due to end in July and my youngest child is 11.  I am working 5 mornings a week from 10 to 12 noon, can I apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition?

A:  Yes, because your child is under 14 you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition and although you are employed for 5 days in the week you are still eligible for this payment, subject to the means test.

3.   Q. I started receiving OPF in November 2011. My child is 14 now and my payment is going to end as the age conditions changes from 14 to 12 in July.  What payment am I eligible for as I am job seeking already?

A: As your child is already 14 then you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance and you will need to meet the full conditionality of the payment of being available for and genuinely seeking full time work.





Are we ready for Single Working Age payment (SWAP)

Media release
Embargo: 1pm 13 March, 2012

Are we ready for Single Working Age Payment – Lone parents need flexibility, childcare and jobs

One Family welcomes the publication of the Report on the Single Working Age Payment (SWAP) Proposal by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education. As one of the key organisations consulted in the crafting of the report we agree with the Committee’s call to the Minister not to proceed with the proposal for SWAP at this time.

Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family explains: “Lone parents have been working in part-time jobs for many years because there is insufficient access to affordable and quality childcare. Particularly important is access to before and after school times to support full-time work, this was not even achieved when the economy was in boom and there were job opportunities.”

She continues: “Budget 2012 delivered a series of harsh cuts directed at lone parents who are trying to move off social welfare. The cutting of the income disregard (ie the amount someone can earn whilst in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment) and cuts in supports for Community Employment are retrograde steps which move poor families deeper into poverty and takes them further away from the labour market, especially at a time when the Government is going to make them seek work when their youngest child is seven years old.”

The recommendations of the report support One Family’s fundamental and  ongoing message that currently there are not enough accessible jobs in Ireland to introduce the SWAP and none of the services recommended to support families move out of poverty  are in place and are unlikely to be in place in the near future due to fiscal constraints.

As a result of this, Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Welfare to Work Manager comments: “For lone parents to have accessible and sustainable work and move their families out of persistent poverty parents need quality, affordable childcare and when they are moved onto a single working age payment the eligibility criteria for seeking work needs to be on a part-time basis as is best practice in other countries.” (see notes to editor)

He continues:  “There also needs to be some  flexibilities for parents where their child has specific needs; where the family  has recently suffered from domestic violence; they may have just separated; be studying full or part-time or in an approved training programme; or be caring for an ill or disabled person full-time.”                            Ends


Karen Kiernan, Director One Family.                 T: 01 662 9212          M: 086-850-9191

Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager           T: 01 662 9212          M: 087-0622-023

Notes to editors:

Report on the Single Working Age Payment Proposal by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education                                                              (Source )

Exemptions from expectation to be available for fulltime work for lone parents in other jurisdictions:

New Zealand

You may have circumstances that make it unreasonable for us to expect you to meet your work obligations. If this is the case, you may be able to get an exemption. Exemptions are temporary and the duration depends on your individual situation, such as:

  • your child has special needs
  • you’ve just separated
  • you’ve recently suffered from domestic violence
  • you’re studying full time at level 4 or above or in an approved training course
  • your spouse or partner has recently died
  • you’re more than 27 weeks pregnant or have complications with your pregnancy
  • you’re caring for an ill or disabled person full-time.                                  (Source)

United States

The federal legislation entitled, Family Violence Option, allows states to provide time-limited exemptions from welfare eligibility requirements for victims of domestic violence. (Source)

Nordic countries

Several countries in Northern Europe have a conditional work requirement policy towards lone parents that recognises that it is unreasonable to force those parenting alone into work if affordable childcare is not available to them.                                          (Source)

United Kingdom

Single parents and jobseeker’s allowance – special rules focused on access to part-time work options and childcare.                                                                                (Source )

One parent’s story of parenting alone in 2012

Niamh rang our askonefamily 1890 662212 helpline, here’s her personal story of parenting alone in Ireland in 2012. It will make you think….

I work in the Kildare area and am a single mother with two girls.  One eight year old and a three year old.

My youngest child goes to a local private creche four mornings and one afternoon and my eldest child has to go to the creche’s afterschool club at 2.45.  I depend on the help of my friend to collect her from school those days and drop her over to the after school club.

The cost is €120 a week and I dread the holidays and school breaks as it is a nightmare.  I have to pay for extra childcare for my eldest child. This can bring my childcare costs to €250 per week.  My wages are €320 a week and I receive at the moment €157 One Parent Family Payment, to be dropped to €148, with the earnings disregard dropping to €130 per week.  My work is of a caring and administrative nature. The children’s dad cannot help financially but does collect the children for me and takes care of the 3 year old when she isn’t at creche and I have to work. I have to be flexible on a week to week basis and never know until Friday what my next week’s work schedule will be.  The pressure and stress of this is sometimes unbearable.  I cannot hassle the children’s dad for money as a. I know he has none as he is unemployed at the moment and b. if he wasn’t unemployed I would have to pay a lot more childcare c.  I have to keep quiet with him as he is doing me a favour by collecting the children and looking after them when I need him to.  d. If he didn’t do this for me I wouldn’t be able to afford the extra childcare on my wages.  He enables me to keep my job.

My mortgage is €450 per month and I have a loan for house renovations as I had to get a new roof due to a major leak, payback of €100 per week.  I have furniture on H.P as we needed beds and a cooker and fridge and this is taken from my account every month.  I have union fees of €20 every month also and house insurance of €460, approx €8 a week. TV licence €3 per week, Bins €6 pw. ESB €20 pw, not inclusive of food and clothes and heat and the basics of living.  Now I have the €100 house charge and most likely water rates coming.

My children never had a holiday.  I work all summer to keep my head above water.  I feel guilty when my child tells me of her friend’s holidays.  I couldn’t get extra work with my employer as if I did, I would have to pay the creche extra.  The time is not available at work anyway and there is talk that we may be losing hours to keep the costs down.

I refuse to let this hurt or stop my children having a good life.  I sit and help with homework every evening and am making sure my children have a very good start in like with a good work ethic.  They realise you have to work to get money to live.  I do not want them thinking you don’t have to work for a living.

Unfortunately, while my children are so young I cannot contemplate taking on more work as they need me and will for many years.  These are their vulnerable years.  I started paying creche fees in 2003 and have paid approximately  €7500 a year, this is covering school summer holidays and Easter and Christmas breaks.  I have also had to pay for minders to come in when the children are sick and the creche won’t take them.  Double payment, as the creche still has to be paid.

Where it will all end, I do not know.  Why isn’t the government encouraging us single parents by giving us creche credits or a voucher for the creche that our children attend.  In that way,  we would be spending the money only on childcare, it would keep the creche in full employment creating jobs, reduce the number of people on the dole and leaving people with money to spend, thus creating more jobs.

I do not know why the government thinks that cutting our money will encourage people to want to work.  Sometimes I feel when I’m running around at six in the morning to get myself and two children ready for work and school and creche, what is the point? Why don’t I stay at home and be there all the time for the children. Forget creche, forget work, forget the stress of it all. Sell the house, pay the bank and go on the housing list and get help with my rent.  I’m trying to do everything right and I feel I am cut down at every turn.

Sorry for the ranting, it’s good to get it off my chest. But, I must be doing something right though as both my kids are very happy and the eldest was the top of her class in her Christmas exams.

Niamh, 2012

Free concert tickets for one-parent families

If you are looking for some entertainment for the kids this weekend, The Ark in Dublin are offereing one-parent families free tickets to a concert this Saturday 23 July. There are 25 places and if you parent alone or share parenting and want to go you need to call Sarah at One Family, 01 6629212, by Friday. Read more

One Family Experts Train Bulgarians on Positive Parenting

Media Release 7 July 2011

Irish experts on parenting for one-parent families bring those skills to Bulgarian families at risk, free of charge

One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, will train 20 Bulgarian NGO’s in Positive Parenting in Sofia from 11-13 July.  The training will prepare trainers to better support Bulgarian families in caring for their children.

‘Our Positive Parenting Training for Trainers is designed to support Bulgarian mothers and fathers to become even better parents,’ says Paula Lonergan, One Family Training Manager, ‘We are helping to reverse the sometimes challenging attitudes to parenting that previously existed in Bulgaria. Our training is all about encouraging parents’ strengths, rather than introducing a system of punishments or labeling those who have struggled to parent well in the past as irresponsible or weak. The training has extra support for people parenting alone or sharing parenting and families in transition. This is why it is so suitable and relevant to families needing support in Bulgaria.’ Read more

Lone parent looking for change? Try ‘New Futures’

Are you a lone parent looking for change, support and inspiration in your life? If so, our ‘New Futures’ could be just what you need. It’s a six month training and support programme, certified by FETAC, that will help you become more confident and find out about returning to work or education. Call or email Helen or Aisling 01 6629212, or see

Summer Camp 2011

Looking for something fun for the kids to do this summer? One Family is holding a Summer Camp for children aged 3-5, five days a week, at a cost of €50. The dates are either 25 to 29 July or 8 to 12 August. Places are limited so please call Ailbhe on 01 6629212 or email to book your place. It’s going to be fun – lots of arts and crafts, games, picnics…. and much more.