Survey - 95% of Parents Feel Overwhelmed at Times

15 Mar 2018 in Press Releases, Advocacy, Featured, Research, Parenting

Barnardos released findings of a survey of over 1500 parents into what it’s like to be a parent in Ireland today. The survey revealed the majority of parents feel overwhelmed at times, over one-third of parents (36%) feel they do not receive enough support and almost half of parents (44%) reported that spending enough time with their children was their biggest challenge.

Fergus Finlay, Barnardos CEO said “Our survey confirms that parenting isn’t always easy – 95% of parents reported feeling overwhelmed at times. We know all parents need support sometimes, we also know that the whole family reaps the benefits when parents are supported to be the best they can be. Worryingly, 36% of parents said they don’t feel supported and only 2% of parents turn to public services first when they need support. It is vitally important that parents can get the help and support they need, when they need it and where they feel most comfortable.

We know the parent-child relationship is the biggest factor in facilitating positive emotional development in children. It is immensely helpful for a child to have a supportive adult in their lives who can spend regular dedicated quality time with them. Yet 44% of parents reported that spending enough time with their children was their biggest challenge.”

“Barnardos works with parents daily to support and improve their parenting capacity and to be aware of the importance of a nurturing, loving and stable environment so they can fully respond to children’s needs. Through our LOST Childhood campaign, we know that 1 in 7 children are lost to homelessness, poverty and neglect. As part of this campaign we are calling for greater availability of timely community and public based family support services. Supporting parents’ guarantees to reduce incidences of neglect and ensure children can reach their potential. Join our campaign at www.barnardos.ie/lost ".

The survey findings were released as part of a seminar targeting parents entitled ‘Emotional Development – Unlocking your child’s potential’. This seminar was facilitated by Dil Wickremasinghe (journalist and parent) with a range of child development specialists on hand to answer questions and provide practical guidance and insights on how to support children’s emotional development. 

Top-line results:

  • 95% of parents report feeling overwhelmed at times
  • 35% of parents say they don’t feel supported
  • 69% of parents turn to family or friends when they need support
  • Only 2% of parents turn to public services first when they need support
  • 44% of parents said that spending enough time with their children was their biggest challenge
  • 21% of parents said that managing their stress as a parent was their biggest challenge
  • 38% of parents said that affordable and quality childcare and preschool would make the biggest difference them as a parent
  • 30% of parents said that the availability of more support to be a good parent (advice, courses etc.) would make the biggest difference to them as a parent.

More detailed results are available here

Survey Responses

  • “Work life balance is the biggest issue for us as parents however we cannot afford to live on one salary so therefore my child hasn’t enough of our time.”
  • “The thing that would make the biggest difference to me as a parent and us as a family is more flexibility with regard to our work; to be able to work shorter hours, work from home, work flexitime, work a condensed week and have more time to spend with our children.”
  • “I’m stressed because very anxious child and am working full time so cannot give adequate time to child - pressure to manage both overwhelming.”
  • “My work-life balance is thrown by the stress of the current rental market and the amount of time I have to work for to afford rent. This results in stress on parenting and a limit on the amount of time I would like to spend simply being a parent. I am a single parent and the infrastructure of my children's lives (school, extracurricular activities etc.) is weighted to heavily advantage two-parent households even when one in four children is now being raised in single parent households. Society disadvantages my children and I struggle to correct this and ensure they grow up happy, engaged and not alienated.”
  • “I have a 3 year old and a three week old, it is clear that 2 weeks paternity leave is completely insufficient. Having more paternity leave (even 3/4 weeks) would make an extremely challenging time manageable.”
  • “It takes a village to raise a child. But sometimes there is no village... When there is no family backup you’re a bit lost.”
  • “The reliance one needs to place on family and friends to help when kids and work requirements clash is crazy.  It’s expected that one would have family to help. If you haven’t you are relying on friends as no one wants 'occasional' childcare duties.”
  • “We are very lucky in that we have very strong family support. If we did not have this support my answers to the [survey] questions would be very different.”

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