Tag Archives: parent support

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.”

Walking on Eggshells Downpatrick

Non Violent Resistance Programme

Due to funding stipulations for this programme is only available to women at this time. Men interested in this programme can contact our Helpline on 0808 8010 722 to be placed on a waiting list and contacted when the next suitable programme becomes available.

Duration: Every Monday for 8 weeks
Aim: To provide parents with the skills to achieve a calmer and violent free home

Child to parent violence is an abuse of power through which the child or adolescent attempts to coerce, control or dominate others in the family.

The Parents Walking on Eggshells Programme uses the principles of Non Violent Resistance to help parents experiencing child to parent violence overcome their sense of helplessness, develop a support network, stop destructive behaviours inside the home and improve relationships between family members.

  • Overcome sense of helplessness
  • Develop a support network
  • Stop destructive behaviours
  • Improve family relationships

This programme is particularly suited to parents of children aged 8-16 years old.

All parents and carers need to complete an initial telephone assessment to ensure the programme is suitable for their family circumstances. Call 0808 8010 722 to complete and register. If you would prefer you can complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of the page and we will get in touch with you. Please note that sometimes this can take a few days.

 

 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Lisburn

Duration: Every Wednesday for 2 hours
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

FREE for parents/carers to attend

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Leave me alone.”

“You’re a melter!”

These phrases are often all too familiar for parents of teenagers. The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but Parenting NI and the Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

The programme explores a range of topics relating to parenting young people, including:

  • Teen Development
  • Self-Esteem
  • Setting boundaries
  • Rules and consequences
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Problem solving

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register. If you would prefer you can complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of the page. Completing this form does not secure you a place on the programme, you will need to complete a short registration over the phone. Once the team receive your details they will be in touch to complete your registration. Please note this can sometimes take a few days.

 

Walking on Eggshells Enniskillen

Non Violent Resistance Programme

Due to funding stipulations for this programme is only available to women at this time. Men interested in this programme can contact our Helpline on 0808 8010 722 to be placed on a waiting list and contacted when the next suitable programme becomes available.

Duration: Every Monday for 8 weeks
Aim: To provide parents with the skills to achieve a calmer and violent free home

Child to parent violence is an abuse of power through which the child or adolescent attempts to coerce, control or dominate others in the family.

The Parents Walking on Eggshells Programme uses the principles of Non Violent Resistance to help parents experiencing child to parent violence overcome their sense of helplessness, develop a support network, stop destructive behaviours inside the home and improve relationships between family members.

  • Overcome sense of helplessness
  • Develop a support network
  • Stop destructive behaviours
  • Improve family relationships

This programme is particularly suited to parents of children aged 8-16 years old.

All parents and carers need to complete an initial telephone assessment to ensure the programme is suitable for their family circumstances. Call 0808 8010 722 to complete and register. If you would prefer you can complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of the page and we will get in touch with you. Please note that sometimes this can take a few days.

 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Belfast

Duration: Every Thursday for 2 hours
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

FREE for parents/carers to attend

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Leave me alone.”

“You’re a melter!”

These phrases are often all too familiar for parents of teenagers. The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but Parenting NI and the Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

The programme explores a range of topics relating to parenting young people, including:

  • Teen Development
  • Self-Esteem
  • Setting boundaries
  • Rules and consequences
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Problem solving

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register. If you would prefer you can complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of the page. Completing this form does not secure you a place on the programme, you will need to complete a short registration over the phone. Once the team receive your details they will be in touch to complete your registration. Please note this can sometimes take a few days.

 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Newtownabbey

Duration: Every Wednesday for 2 hours
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

FREE for parents/carers to attend

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Leave me alone.”

“You’re a melter!”

These phrases are often all too familiar for parents of teenagers. The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but Parenting NI and the Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

The programme explores a range of topics relating to parenting young people, including:

  • Teen Development
  • Self-Esteem
  • Setting boundaries
  • Rules and consequences
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Problem solving

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register. If you would prefer you can complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of the page. Completing this form does not secure you a place on the programme, you will need to complete a short registration over the phone. Once the team receive your details they will be in touch to complete your registration. Please note this can sometimes take a few days.

 

 

Parenting Apart Belfast (Dads Only)

This programme is being delivered as part of the Dads Project and therefore is open to men only. Thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund NI this is free for dads to attend.

Duration: Every Tuesday for 6 weeks

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need. Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on

To register drop us a line to dadsproject@parentingni.org or call/text 07739466532. Alternatively you can complete an expression of interest below.

Parenting Apart Limavady (Dads Only)

This programme is being delivered as part of the Dads Project and therefore is open to men only. Thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund NI this is free for dads to attend.

Duration: Every Tuesday for 6 weeks

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need. Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on

To register drop us a line to dadsproject@parentingni.org or call/text 07739466532. Alternatively you can complete an expression of interest below.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Newry

Duration: Every Thursday for 2 hours
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

FREE for parents/carers to attend

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Leave me alone.”

“You’re a melter!”

These phrases are often all too familiar for parents of teenagers. The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but Parenting NI and the Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

The programme explores a range of topics relating to parenting young people, including:

  • Teen Development
  • Self-Esteem
  • Setting boundaries
  • Rules and consequences
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Problem solving

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register. If you would prefer you can complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of the page. Completing this form does not secure you a place on the programme, you will need to complete a short registration over the phone. Once the team receive your details they will be in touch to complete your registration. Please note this can sometimes take a few days.

 

 

Your Young Person’s Sexuality/Gender Identity A Parent’s Guide

Sexuality has always been a complicated and difficult subject for parents and young people to discuss. A complex combination of social norms, values, biology and traditions combine into a perfect storm of confusion and potential for conflict.

Despite this, while parents and young people may have different ideas about what is or is not morally acceptable, parents generally would want their child to feel that they can be themselves around them.

When a young person talks to their parents about an element of their sexual identity (or they learn about it from another source) it can be difficult. Parents will often want to be supportive, but may struggle to understand some of the terms or realities of what they are being told.

There is clear evidence that many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) people do not feel comfortable about being open about who they are with family members. In the 2018 National LGBT survey, 23.8% of all LGBT people were open with none of the family members they lived with. Katz-Wise et. Al (2016) found that “one-third of youth experience parental acceptance, another third experience parental rejection, and the remaining third do not disclose their sexual orientation even by their late teenage years and early twenties”.

Many teens fear the reaction of their parents if or when they disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. When recalling negative incidents, the National LGBT survey (2018) found that the most often named instigator was a parent or guardian. While the vast majority of parents want their children to be happy and safe, there is stress on both sides of this difficult conversation. This stress, if not appropriately managed can have negative consequences.

How you react will have an impact on the outcomes for your child. LGBT young people statistically have worse mental health outcomes – a report in 2014 found that “more than half of young gay people have suffered mental health issues, and 40 per cent have considered suicide” (Merrill, 2014). However, a parents support and love can help to mitigate these. Shilo & Savaya (2011) found that family support had a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBT young people.

Additionally, it is important that a young person feels able to tell you about their sexual orientation. Rothman et al. (2012) found that having disclosed one’s sexual orientation was “associated with higher levels of the health risk behaviours and conditions”. Simply put, children are likely to have better outcomes if they feel comfortable telling their parents about their sexual orientation.

How to react

So, what should parents do when their young person opens up to them that they are not heterosexual (solely attracted to the opposite gender) or cisgender (that they identify as the same gender on their birth certificate)?

Most importantly we would encourage parents to not panic.

While parents may have suspected that this was the case, a confirmation can be shocking or difficult to initially process. It is common for parents to feel negative feelings – Baiocco et al. (2014) – suggested that parents are often concerned about what other people, friends and relatives could think about their sons and daughters sexuality, the judgment of other people, maybe even about their own parental skills.

Tobkes & Davidson (2016) describe the three feelings of “loss” that a parent who has learnt of their child’s LGBT sexual orientation may feel:

    Loss of a “traditional” life

    Loss of a safe and easy life

    Loss of a child

The final of these losses is often the cause of such extreme actions as telling a child that he or she is “no longer part of the family”. While feelings of loss or sadness are understandable, the long-term impact of a severe reaction such as this are highly damaging and difficult to overcome. Potoczniak et al (2009) found that the outcomes from a negative reaction were sometimes very serious with 3% of those who “came out” becoming totally estranged from family and that disclosure in 4% of maternal relationships and 9% of paternal relationships either “totally destroyed or worsened an already bad relationship”.

Even if you are highly upset or shocked by your child’s revelation, take care that any reaction you have does not have a lasting negative impact on your relationship.

It is understandable that parents may feel loss, however it is important to remember that nothing has actually been lost. While this may have been an aspect of your child that parents were unaware of previously, they are still the same person. Even if you considered yourself to be accepting of LGBT individuals, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG), a charitable organisation dedicated to supporting LGBT individual’s families notes in their guide for parents that:

“Many parents who believe that they are totally accepting of lesbian, gay or bisexual people, and who don’t consider themselves prejudiced or judgemental are likely to find themselves, if only temporarily, knocked off balance by an announcement that they have a lesbian, gay or bisexual daughter or son”

Parents should remain mindful of the important role their support plays in their child’s self-worth and identity. Willoughby et al. (2008) notes:

“Individuals’ perceptions of themselves are, in part, based on the ways they perceive their parents to view them. Thus, insofar as individuals feel rejected by their loved ones, they may be likely to see themselves as unlovable and unworthy”

You may need some time and space to process this news. That is normal, try to work through your feelings either not in the presence of your child or in such a manner that it does not make them feel it is their “fault”. Stonewall (2018) advises parents that regardless of their own feelings about “being gay”, “you love them and want them to be happy. The fact that they are gay or lesbian doesn’t change that”.

Communication and Terms

An important aspect of responding to your child “coming out”, is to listen. It is possible that you may have preconceived ideas of what certain terms mean, but sexual orientation is an individual experience. An additional challenge for parents is that the terms used to describe sexual orientation and gender identity are constantly changing. While many parents will be familiar with “gay” or “homosexual”, the more modern concepts can seem baffling.

The person best placed to tell you what this disclosure means for your child, is your child. However, it may also be helpful to familiarise yourself with very common terms. The acronym most commonly used is LGBTQIA+. These terms as defined by the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Resource Center of Michigan State University are:

Lesbian – Term used to describe women who are exclusively or primarily attracted to other women in a romantic, erotic, and/or emotional sense. Not all women who engage in “homosexual behaviour” identify as lesbians, and as such this label should be used with caution

Gay – Used in some cultural settings to represent men who are exclusively or primarily attracted to other men in a romantic, erotic and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in “homosexual behaviour” identify as gay, and as such this label should be used with caution. Also a general term for gay men and lesbians.

Bisexual – A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to people of their own gender as well as other genders, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree

Transgender – A person who identifies with a gender other than that the gender they were assigned at birth. Sexual orientation varies and is not dependent on gender identity.

Queer/Questioning – An umbrella term which includes lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans* people, intersex persons, radical sex communities, and many other sexually transgressive communities. This term is sometimes used as a sexual orientation label or gender identity label used to denote a non-heterosexual or cisgender identity without having to define specifics. A reclaimed word that was formerly used solely as a slur but that has been reclaimed by some folks in the LGBTQ community. Nevertheless, a sizable percentage of people to whom this term might apply still hold “queer‟ to be a hateful insult, and its use by heterosexual people is often considered offensive.

Intersex – Individual(s) born with the condition of having physical sex markers (genitals, hormones, gonads, or chromosomes) that are neither clearly male nor female. Intersex people are sometimes defined as having “ambiguous” genitalia.

Asexual – Person who does not experience sexual attraction. They may or may not experience emotional, physical, and/or romantic attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation, not a choice

The “+” symbol is an acknowledgement that these terms do not necessarily cover the entire spectrum of human sexuality. It simply leaves the process open to further development.

Stonewall (2018), a UK-based LGBT rights charity suggests that when a young person “comes out” to a parent they should allow the child to say their piece before asking questions. This can show them that you are a safe and understanding person to talk to about their sexuality or gender identity. This is important because just like if they were heterosexual, if your child feels unsafe talking to you about sexuality or gender identity it can lead to serious omissions. They may take more risks, or fail to alert you if they are harassed or sexually assaulted.

What about if you suspect that your child or young person is LGBT, but they have not yet spoken to you? Relate (2018) notes that it is not helpful to pressure them to “come out” before they are ready. Instead, you should take steps to ensure that your home is a supportive place for them if they are LGBT. For example, making positive comments about LGBT individuals and refusing to tolerate homophobic or transphobic language. Your child will tell you when they are ready, and you should be there for them when it is time.

Transgender children

For children or young people who are transgender, there are some important differences. First of all, it is important to understand that very young children (for example, under 5s) often show interest in toys or clothes that are not usually associated with their gender (NHS, 2018). Therefore, as with LGB children, parents should not try to second guess if they suspect their child may be transgender.

As with LGB children, parents should start by listening. Your child may choose to explore medical options as part of their identity. However, they may not. They may choose to “present” as one gender all of the time, or it may depend on the day. Action for Children (2018) notes that Adults should make every effort to address the child in the way they have requested. Your child’s gender identity can be confusing for them and for their parents, but a negative or hostile reaction is unlikely to have any positive outcomes.

Depending on your child’s age and desires, the next steps vary. Mermaids UK (2018), a support organisation for transgender people notes that medical transition in young people usually consists of taking hormone blockers after the initial stages of puberty which are completely reversible and simply pause puberty. While it is important to communicate with your child regarding what happens next, the focus should be on your initial reaction. Your child should know that you still love them unconditionally, and that you will support them.

Conclusion

There is no “right” way to deal with the fact that your child may be LGBT. Every family, and every individual is different and has different support requirements. If you suspect that your child may be LGBT, but they have not yet confided in you, seek out information to prepare yourself. If your child has recently informed you, remain calm and reassure them that you love them regardless of circumstances.

There are a number of excellent recourses locally to support LGBT young people and their parents. Parenting NI’s helpline (0808 8010 722) can provide advice and support for anyone in a parenting role. Additionally, groups like Cara-friend, SAIL and The Rainbow Project can offer specialist LGBT support.

Call the Helpline at 0808 8010 722