This edition of ChildLinks joins the campaign by exploring aspects of parenting
and family life in today’s Ireland.
Following the publication of the report of the Commission on the Family,
Strengthing Families for Life in 1998 and major structural and policy developments in the childcare sector the focus appears to be again on the family and parenthood. Research confirms that the quality of parenting and the family environment
are by far the most important contributors to children’s paths into
adulthood. It makes sense, then, to target supports and interventions at parents
At the same time, our understanding of the nature of “family” and “parenthood”
has changed and broadened from a narrow view of blood relation to one of
social role. The expectation of fathers has also changed considerably bringing
with it the need for adjustments among parents.
Parents are now much less certain about what good parenting is and the everincreasing
number of — sometimes contradictory — advice books on the shelves
only contribute to this uncertainty.
With all these changes and growing expectations many parents report high levels
of pressure and stress. These are in many cases added to by the practical difficulties
of raising children in Ireland today: lack of quality affordable childcare;
poor public services; and unsafe environments.
The new Family Support Agency, to be established by statute in the near future
will also contribute to the developing policy and service context. Whether the
agency will be allowed to play a co-ordinating role remains to be seen.
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