Home-Start can help to ease parental pressure

A Home-Start volunteer working with a family
A Home-Start volunteer working with a family
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Almost seven in 10 (67%) of parents with children under the age of five say that being called a ‘bad parent’ is the most offensive criticism they could receive.

That’s according to a recent YouGov survey of 1,000 parents with children aged under five commissioned by one of the UK’s leading family support charities, Home-Start UK.

Survey results also showed that 74% of parents interviewed agreed that it was important for them to be recognised by others as being a ‘good parent’. And more than a third (37%) agreed that they felt under pressure to be a ‘perfect parent’.

Sara Gowen, manager of Home-Start Sheffield, said the results showed that in British society parenting young children was a key area of concern for many families and she wanted no-one to feel they had to struggle on alone: “Over the last 40 years Home-Start has supported more than a million children and their parents.

“Our service is non-judgemental, so we would never label people ‘bad parents’, and we understand the pressures faced by parents across the UK. Home-Start’s approach is to encourage parents to trust in their own ability by developing their own confidence and skills.”

Not giving your child emotional support was the most common reason that respondents gave for considering anyone a ‘bad parent’, with 78% of them citing this as their answer.

Sara said: “The survey backs up what we have actually been seeing since 1973 across the UK, and since 1982 in Home-Start Sheffield. Our founder, Margaret Harrison, realised that when parents can’t cope, children miss out, and that parents needed non-judgemental support, not criticism or ‘lessons’. Home-Start’s parent volunteers have been giving their tailor-made support to families ever since.

“In an ideal world Home-Start wouldn’t be needed. But for many parents the pressures of family life are simply too much to cope with alone. There are many reasons for this including poverty, illness, family breakdowns, isolation, addiction and physical and mental health issues,” she continued.

“And this is where Home-Start steps in – recruiting and training parent volunteers to offer emotional and practical support to families in their own homes and preventing family breakdown and crisis.

“Parents supporting other parents. It’s a simple idea that really works.”

Other findings from the survey include that more mums were most concerned about being criticised as a ‘bad parent’ (73%) than dads (60%).

‘Criticism of parenting skills from professionals’ was feared most by mums (34% vs 20%), whereas dads were more concerned about being criticised by their partners (29% vs 15%) 42% of parents said that if they were told they were a ‘bad parent’ they would feel as though they had let their children down.

More mums felt under pressure to be a ‘perfect parent’ (48%), than dads (27%).

Home-Start UK, which is the UK’s leading family support charity, commissioned the survey to launch the start of its 40th year of family support.

In 1973 Home-Start Leicester pioneered the approach of what is now one of the largest volunteer-based family support charities in the UK.

There are now more than 300 local Home-Starts across the UK.

In the last year, Home-Start Sheffield’s 110 volunteers have supported 263 families with 508 children.

The service also runs in Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley

For more information on Home-Start Sheffield, including how to become a volunteer, go to http://www.hssheffield.org.uk, email enquiries@hssheffield.org.uk or call 0114 278 8377. To find other Home-Start groups, go to http://www.home-start.org.uk