The Support Needs of Parents: Responding to Their Children's Behaviour

Stewart, R. & McHugh, J. (2008). The Support Needs of Parents: Responding to Their Children's Behaviour.
Barnardos Family Support Project in Carlow is supported and informed by a multi-agency advisory group representing voluntary and statutory agencies and the local community. The collective experience of the member agencies of this group and that of the local community coupled with increasing anecdotal evidence, suggests that an increasing number of parents in the general population are experiencing difficulty with regard to managing and responding to their children’s behaviour. The primary aim of the study was to examine the perceived stress of parents of 10-14 year olds and how best they could be supported. This age group was focused on as it is through these years that significant changes are experienced — transition from childhood to adolescence, transition from primary to second level school. The underlying question being posed by the research is if there are specific supports required by parents at this time in their child’s/family life. With consideration of the specific roles, responsibilities and limitations of existing service providers both statutory and voluntary it was agreed that further information was required in order to establish on one hand the extent to which families in Carlow are ‘under pressure’ trying to respond to problematic behaviour i.e. maintain adequate boundaries with their children, and on the other models of good practice in parent support. A literature review was commissioned by Barnardos to identify models of good practice and subsequent learning in order to inform current service provision and the development of new services where relevant. The study was funded and supported by Carlow Area Network Development Organisation (CANDO) Carlow RAPID and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The review of literature was carried out by Siobhan Bradley of the Centre for Social and Educational Research (CSER) at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Subsequently, primary research, which was informed by the findings of literature review, was undertaken by Roisin Stewart and John Mc Hugh from the Department of Social Studies at Carlow College, St Patrick’s in relation to the support needs of parents who have not yet accessed existing services. This final report includes a summary of the key findings of the literature review" as well as the findings and analysis and key recommendations arising out of the primary research.