Parents are feeling ‘overwhelmed’, survey finds

Responses from parents in Barnardos report focussed on difficulties spending enough time with children

Almost half of parents find spending enough time with their children their “biggest challenge”, with almost all saying they feel “overwhelmed at times”, a survey published on Thursday finds.

The report, from the children's charity Barnardos, finds many parents particularly stressed by the pressures of meeting the cost of living, affording housing and responding to their children's needs. It draws on a survey of 1,500 parents on what it is like to be a parent in Ireland today.

Some 95 per cent said they felt overwhelmed at times, and 35 per cent said they didn’t feel supported. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) turn to family or friends for support, while just 2 per cent turn to public services.

Responses from parents focussed on difficulties spending enough time with children.


“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,” said one.

“I’m stressed because [I have a] very anxious child and am working full-time so cannot give adequate time to my child: pressure to manage both is overwhelming,” said another.

“It takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes there is no village. When there is no family backup you are a bit lost.”

Fergus Finlay, chief executive of Barnardos, said the survey confirmed parenting was often difficult. “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 per cent of parents reported that spending enough time with their children was their biggest challenge.”

Among the calls made by parents was for longer paternity leave – it is currently two weeks – and for greater recognition of the particular challenges faced by lone parents.

One single parent commented: “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 . .. The infrastructure of my children’s lives is weighted to heavily advantage two-parent households even when one in four children is now being raised in a single-parent household. Society disadvantages my children and I struggle to correct this and ensure they grow up happy, engaged and not alienated.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times