Category Archives: News

Parenting Week 2018 – Power of Parent Child Relationships

Of the many different relationships people form over the course of their lives, the relationship between a parent and their child is among the most important.

Parenting NI are contacted by thousands of parents each year, about a variety of issues including concerns around children’s digital activity and video gaming, separation, and child to parent violence. As challenges for families increase and become more complex in today’s society, the parenting support charity want to use this year’s Parenting Week to highlight how valuable positive parent-child relationships are in improving outcomes for children.

Strong parent-child relationships play a vital role in all areas of children’s development and can have a lasting influence throughout a child’s life, including better mental health, finding it easier to make friends, better educational attainment and being more resilient.

Parenting NI CEO, Charlene Brooks said,

“We want to assure parents that no matter what challenges they are facing they should never underestimate the impact of the positive relationship they have with their children.

Relationships shape how our children see the world, teaching them about communication, emotions and how to behave. Parenting NI want to encourage parents to get involved in Parenting Week to celebrate the how powerful their relationship is; helping to raise happy, healthy children.”

To launch the Parenting Week programme of events, Parenting NI brought together over 240 professionals and practitioners to Girdwood Community Hub for an event with Dr Karen Treisman, focusing on the importance of parent-child relationships.

Speaking in support of the week, Dr Treisman said,

“We need to see beyond challenging behaviours and connect with the person behind them. It’s vital that we keep relationships at the heart of supporting parents to help them be the best support for their children.”

Schools throughout Northern Ireland will also be taking part in the week with various resources and activities being provided to teachers to help explore the relationships and communication in the classroom.

Graham Gault, Principal at Maghaberry Primary School explains why he was delighted to have his school involved,

“We know that children from homes in which parents adopt effective approaches to managing behaviour and development are better able to cope with the normal struggles of life and set appropriate boundaries for themselves. The resources and support provided by Parenting NI have been very useful in helping our parents reflect on how important relationships in the home are in creating the context in which children can flourish.”

Parenting NI and Bank of Ireland UK have their Eye on the Ball for Working Parents

Left to right: Gail Toal, Bank of Ireland UK, Charlene Brooks, Parenting NI and Simon Fitzpatrick, Irish Football Association. Parenting NI partner with Bank of Ireland UK to host a special event at the National Stadium focusing on workplace support for parents.

It’s often said that being a parent is the most important job you will ever have; but for many parents it’s not their only job, and the challenge of trying to find a balance between work and family life can be difficult.

A breakfast networking seminar will take place in the Danny Blanchflower Room at the National Stadium on Monday 22nd October which will explore how businesses can support staff with work life balance and engage them on issues relating to gender equality and diversity.

Award winning ex-CNN journalist and author of ground breaking book All In, Josh Levs will be keynote speaker at the event. When Levs was denied fair parental leave by his employer after his child was born, he fought back and won. In the process he became a leading advocate for modern families, now working with corporations and organisations to build policies that support men as equal caregivers, a crucial step towards ensuring equal career opportunities to women.

Parenting NI CEO, Charlene Brooks, said with all the pressures on modern families it’s time for a change of perceptions and workplace culture.

“We believe it’s important for workplaces to move with the times when it comes to family friendly policies. Employers who support and respond to the needs of working parents are helping to shape a workplace for an evolving workforce.

“We are encouraged at the number of employers Parenting NI are working with in Northern Ireland who help provide support to their parent employees. The rewards for businesses who do so include a more productive, engaged, motivated workforce, reduced absenteeism and employers are more likely to be successful at recruiting and retaining staff.”

Charlene Brooks explained that Parenting NI hopes the event will open up more conversation in businesses about how they can help ease work life balance stresses for families in Northern Ireland.

“We are particularly excited to be hosting this event with Josh Levs and our partners Bank of Ireland and Citi. Parenting NI hope that the event will help start a wider conversation within more organisations about offering more support and flexibility for their parent employees, not only to benefit children and families but also to the benefit of their own businesses.”

Ian Sheppard, Managing Director Northern Ireland at Bank of Ireland UK, said: “Bank of Ireland UK are delighted to be supporting our partners, Parenting NI, with this exciting ‘Make Parenting Work’ networking seminar. As an organisation, our purpose is to enable our customers, colleagues and communities to thrive. At the heart of this purpose is our commitment to Inclusion & Diversity and to foster an inclusive working environment where all colleagues are enabled to reach their full potential. Collaborating with Parenting NI, a leading organisation for supporting parents since 1979, has given us the tools to support our parent employees through a range of needs-led sessions.”

Help for Parents at their Fingertips as New App is Launched

Parenting charity, Parenting NI, have launched a brand new app which will give parents immediate access to parenting support.

Thanks to support from the Building Change Trust and Techies in Residence, Parenting NI have collaborated with Derry~Londonderry based firm, Kippie, to create an app which will offer tips and support to parents.

The innovative Parent Support App is free for parents to download and offers a range of tips on topics such as emotions, behaviour, digital parenting and friendships. It has links to information such as what parent support programmes are available and a direct link to the charity’s freephone helpline.

Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive at Parenting NI said,

“We are excited to be able to launch the first stage of our Parent Support App this week. We recognize that it can be difficult for parents to reach out for help, and we are therefore delighted to have created, with our partners Kippie, an engaging piece of technology which makes it easy for parents to access support.

Parenting NI are looking forward to seeing the future development of the app, including the introduction of interactive quizzes and games for parents to explore topics such as mental health with their children. We believe there is huge potential with this platform to further expand the support currently on offer and hope that it will go some way to helping reduce the stigma associated with parents seeking support.”

Speaking on the app launch and the Techies in Residence Programme, Paul Braithwaite, Programme Leader at Building Change Trust said,

“This app from Parenting NI exemplifies what the Techies in Residence programme is for – helping charities and social enterprises to harness digital technology for the benefit of their service users. As a parent myself I know that having such practical information and support literally at your fingertips will be invaluable. We’re also delighted to be able to announce that the Techies in Residence programme will be continuing for a fourth year in 2019 with funding from Comic Relief and support from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland – we’ll be opening for applications very soon.”

The Parenting NI Parent Support App is now available to download for free on Android and will be available on App Store later in the year.

Parenting NI launches “Dad’s Project” to support fathers

Parenting NI has launched a new project, aimed at supporting fathers. Generously funded by the Big Lottery, the “Dad’s Project” will support dads living throughout Northern Ireland who are separating, separated and/or currently involved within the courts service.

The project which will be partly based in Derry~Londonderry will work with dads across Northern Ireland. Alongside providing support services for fathers, it is also hoped that the Dads Project will promote children’s rights to have access to both parents and the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with their dads.

Charlene Brooks, CEO of Parenting NI said:

“The relationship between children and their fathers is so, important. While there are some occasions where contact is not possible, in general the research is clear. Children do better if they have contact with their father.

“They do better in school, have better physical and mental health and have better social skills. Having a father who is active and engaged in his children’s life is hugely important for positive outcomes.

Separation is the single most common cause for calls to the Parenting Regional Helpline. 35% of dads contacting the helpline contact us about separation. As a result of the amount of men contacting Parenting NI about separation the organisation recognised the need for specific support for separated dads.

“Sadly, there are occasions where a relationship breakdown has created a gulf between dads and their children.

“The Dads Project will support separated dads by promoting their engagement and involvement in the lives of their children, families and community. The project will aim to develop their confidence in their parenting ability and to build positive social connections and relationships with other dads in their community.

“The Dad’s project will be led by dads via a Dads Steering Group and it has guidance being offered from statutory and voluntary organisations via a Dads Advisory Committee. This will ensure that the project is helping dads with the problems they face, and is both proactive in developing services and reactive to their concerns.”

The project was formally launched this morning at Parenting NI Head Office in Belfast.

Long-Term High Conflict Separations Harming Parents and Children

Parenting NI has found that more than 80% of parents dealing with long-running, high-conflict separations describe themselves as worried, stressed and anxious. Similarly negative impacts have been found with children, including behavioural and physical issues.

Charlene Brooks, CEO of Parenting NI said:
“It is increasingly common for parents to call our helpline in a situation where they are still in conflict with their ex-partner a year after separation.

“The damage that parental conflict on this scale has on children can be significant and can have serious negative implications. Parenting NI realises and understands that every family is different, and that most parents do not allow conflict to linger in this way.

“However, around 10-12% of parents unfortunately get stuck in intractable conflicts. There are lots of reasons why parents might fall into this situation and they may not realise how much of an impact the arguments have on their children.

“Research shows that the stress that is associated with parental conflict has a more harmful impact on children than the separation itself. Children whose parents remain in unresolved conflict are less likely to do well at school, have poorer interpersonal skills, lower overall wellbeing and less positive relationships with their parents.

“As difficult as it may be, we would encourage parents to think about how they manage conflict. Try not to criticize your ex-partner in front of your children and reassure them that the separation is not their fault. It is also important to remember that in most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to have a close, stable and ongoing relationship with both parents wherever possible.

“We are contacted daily by parents on both sides of the conflict, worried about not only the impact on their children but on their own mental health and wellbeing. Parenting NI is hoping to highlight the need to support parents to effectively manage separation in order to reduce the impact of lingering, high-conflict separations on children.”

Parenting NI has released a report, based on case studies and academic research outlining what dangers come from long term, active parental conflict.

Separation is the single most common cause for calls to the Parenting Regional Helpline. 35% of dads contacting the helpline contact us about separation. As a result of the amount of men contacting Parenting NI about separation the organisation recognised the need for specific support for separated dads. In the week of Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day (11th – 17th June), Parenting NI will launch the new Dads Project funded by Big Lottery Fund NI.

The Dads Project will promote dads being engaged and involved in their children's lives. The project will help dads to develop more confidence in their parenting ability and to build positive connections with other dads in a similar position in their community.

Contact Parenting NI

Give us a call on 0808 8010 722

Download the Full Report

Read more information here

Parenting NI Celebrates Working Mums at Maryville


Leading local parenting organisation, Parenting NI, is hosting a bespoke network event today, Thursday 8th March to celebrate working mums on International Women’s Day.

The ‘Maryville Mum’s Network Event’ held exclusively for working mums aims to bring together over 40 professional working mums to share a special afternoon tea experience whilst engaging and networking with peers. Special guests include Dr Lisa Neligan, Private GP,Kingsbridge Medical, part of the 3FiveTwo Group, alongside Lisa McLaughlin Director of Global Law Firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

On what is the globally recognised ‘International Women’s Day’ over 40 local businesswoman (including SME owners, lawyers, Business Development Managers and Financiers) are all coming together with one special bond – they are all balancing their busy careers with being a mum.

After hearing some excellent advice and best practice from Guest Speakers Lisa Neligan, GP (Kingsbridge Medical) and Lisa McLaughlin, Overseas Director (Herbert Smith Freehills), Parenting Education Consultant Lauren Spiers will deliver information and advice including top tips on understanding children’s social and emotional behaviour, promoting self-esteem and tactics to achieve the balance between being a working mum whilst still succeeding in the workplace.

Event Organiser, Lucy McCusker said, ‘I am delighted that we have so many working mums attending Maryville House today – coming together on International Women’s Day makes this event so much more poignant. Parenting NI is committed to offering support to all working mum’s across NI and we are excited at the amount of employers who now recognise the importance of supporting working parents.’

With the ever increasing demands of both work life and family life often coming head-to head some working mums can find it difficult to take some time out themselves, this is why today is so important.’

The ‘Maryville Mum’s’ network event is a unique event organised exclusively by Parenting NI – a similar event for working dads was organised at Ulster Rugby in October and was also very successful.a

Parenting NI offer a range of tailor made employee wellbeing workshops and seminars to help employers support their parent employees. Keep an eye on our website for information on future events and for more about our employee wellbeing work click here.

Safer Internet Day: A Better Internet Starts With You

Safer Internet Day aims to not only create a safer internet but also a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

Safer Internet Day aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet.

By celebrating the positive power of the internet, the 2018 Safer Internet Day theme of “Create, Connect and Share Respect: a better internet starts with you” encourages everyone to join the global movement, to participate, to make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together.

Digital Parenting - Safer Internet Day 2018 film for parents and carers from UK Safer Internet Centre on Vimeo.

Parents and carers play a crucial role in empowering and supporting children to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively, whether it is by ensuring an open dialogue with their children, educating them to use technology safely and positively, or by acting as digital role models.

The UK Safer Internet Centre have created some fantastic resources we wanted to share with you that are worth discussing with your young people. 

For more information you can visit the UK Safer Internet Website for lots of free resources.

Separation a Major Concern for Parents in NI

The impact of separation on children and young people is a major concern for parents in Northern Ireland. Local parenting support charity say separation issues are the single most common cause for calls to the Regional Parenting Helpline.

Hundreds of parents contact Parenting NI every year seeking support with separation, last year calls about separation and contact issues accounted for around 22% of all calls to the charity.

Parental separation and divorce is an increasingly common experience for adults and children. In 2016 Northern Ireland had 2,572 divorces which involved 1,935 children and young people aged 0-15. This is an increase on statistics from 2015 and does not account for a large number of parental separations where the parents never married.

Parenting NI are highlighting the need for parenting support to help parents manage separation effectively to reduce the impact on children and young people. Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive at Parenting NI, explains,

“Parenting NI understand that parents separate for many reasons and that it is one of the most high stress and difficult situations families experience. Despite the large number of children and young people affected, and the considerable impact on families and the state, there is a clear lack of policy to help support parents in order for them to be able to put their children and young people’s needs first.”

Charlene suggests there is an urgent need for policy makers to keep pace with the realities of this issue to ensure better outcomes for children and their families in Northern Ireland. In the consultation for the as-yet unpublished Children and Young People Strategy 2017-2027, family breakdown and parental separation is mentioned as an issue but gives minimal indication as to how to support parents to minimize its impact. Parenting NI say this is not good enough,

“Research is very clear that a poorly managed, high conflict separation is decidedly damaging for children and young people, therefore support for parents in managing this tense and difficult time needs to be high on the agenda.

The child’s voice is often lost amongst legal proceedings and whilst The Review of Family Justice by Lord Justice Gillen last year was heartening, it is disappointing that we are still in political deadlock hindering its implementation for the benefit of families across Northern Ireland.”

Parenting NI has a Parenting Apart programme specifically designed and proven to successfully support parents who have separated or are separating. Given the amount of calls the Regional Parenting Helpline receives in relation to this issue this is a programme which is in high demand. However, due to a lack of funding the programme has not been readily available to parents.

In order to meet the demand, the charity will be delivering a free Parenting Apart workshop for parents in Belfast on Wednesday 7th March from 6 to 8pm. The workshop will explore the challenges of parental separation, consider the factors that affect a child’s ability to adjust to the circumstances and offers tips to help parents manage their separation and adapt to their changing role as a parent.

Read the report

The Impacts of a Poorly Managed Separation: Parenting NI Research Note on Parental Separation and Divorce

Information/Interview Requests

Please email Emma Lyttle, Communications Officer or call 028 9031 0891.

Parenting NI One of Belfast Lord Mayor’s Charities of the Year

Rt Hon Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, supports Parenting NI Parents’ Week Campaign – Every Child is a Star.

Local parenting support charity, Parenting NI, launched Parents’ Week yesterday with an event in Belfast City Hall focusing on how parents can be support to help nurture the child’s mental health and resilience. 

Parenting NI are delighted to have the Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister’s support for the Week. Chief Executive of Parenting NI, Charlene Brooks said,

“We are delighted that Parenting NI has been chosen as one of the Lord Mayor of Belfast’s Charities of the Year. Parents’ Week is our biggest campaign in the year and this one is particularly significant as we know how concerned parents are about their children’s mental health. 

“It can often be difficult for parents to reach out for help and the more public support we have for valuing parenting will help reduce this stigma. That’s why it is fantastic to have Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister’s support which has been a great addition to awareness of the campaign and also to the charities ongoing work with parents.”

Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister said,

“I am delighted to have Parenting NI as one of my charities of the year and to support them with the Parents’ Week campaign. Any support which we can give to improve children’s resilience and mental health is vital. Parenting NI is providing an invaluable service to all parents by highlighting ways in which we can support our children and each other.”

Develop Your Child’s ‘Star’ Potential

Local Parenting Charity Encourages Parents To Develop Children’s ‘Star’ Potential

Parenting NI have launched their annual Parents’ Week campaign, which this year focuses on children’s emotional wellbeing and building their resilience.

Northern Ireland has an overall higher prevalence of mental ill health than the rest of the UK. This is a significant concern for parents, as if children and young people are experiencing poor mental health it makes it difficult for them to develop resilience which enables them to cope with the challenges life presents. Parenting NI has received 64 calls from concerned parents about mental health within their family in the past month alone.

The local charity’s campaign aims to highlight the importance of resilience to children’s emotional wellbeing, through the ‘Every Child is a Star’ campaign. All children have the potential to be resilient, however these skills need to be nurtured and strengthened. Parents play a vital role in promoting and supporting the building of resilience in their children.

As the Chief Executive of Parenting NI explained, “Resilience increases children’s ability to cope with the increasing pressures and stresses of modern life. We hear every day from parents of the challenges their children and young people are experiencing, for example bullying, parental separation, exam stress, pressures from social media and mental health concerns.

Research tells us that children with strong, supportive parental relationships are more likely to be more resilient. When you take this into consideration along with the pressures on mental health services, there is a clear need for parental support to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people.”

This year Parenting NI was chosen as one of the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nuala McAllister’s charities of the year. The organisation is delighted to be able to host an event in Belfast City Hall to launch the week on Monday 23rd October. The Risk to Resilience event will see guest speaker Robin Balbernie, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, who will share his extensive knowledge and expertise on the topic with professionals working with families throughout Northern Ireland.

Speaking about the importance of acting early to improve outcomes for children, Guest speaker Robin Balbernie said, “Children who are treated with kindliness and thoughtfulness grow up to be adults who are kind and thoughtful towards others, and anything that gets in the way of that very simple process needs to be addressed. This is especially important during the first 1001 critical days, from conception to age two.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister said, "I am delighted to offer Parenting NI my support and the use of City Hall for this event.

All of us, but particularly parents, are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health not just for children but adults too.

"Any support which we can give to improve resilience and mental health is vital. Parenting NI is providing an invaluable service to all parents by highlighting ways in which we can support our children and each other."

Parenting NI will host two large family events during the week, with activities for parents and their children exploring emotional wellbeing and information on family support. The organisation has also provided schools throughout Northern Ireland with resources to enable them to engage with parents and children on talking about emotions and building resilience. An online campaign will run throughout the week giving parents tips and information on improving communication, managing emotions and raising self-esteem to help them build resilience in their children.

Media Enquiries

Contact Emma Lyttle, Communications Officer at Parenting NI on 028 9031 0891 or email.