To better understand the hopes and concerns parents and carers have for their young children in 2018, Family Action and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) facilitated conversations in a range of settings across the UK. We heard from over 300 parents and carers. We found that:
- Without exception, parents and carers want happiness, opportunities and choice for their children. They also want their children to have the self-confidence to be themselves and to participate positively in their community
- Good parenting and caring is seen as the most important aspect of a happy childhood
- To provide the right care for their children, parents need good mental health and emotional wellbeing. This was particularly so regarding maternal mental health, where some mothers felt more support would be helpful
- Some parents find it hard to spend as much time with their children as they would like, owing to the need to work to provide for their family
- Specific universal health services are a key part of parents’ experiences of support. However, these experiences were mixed, with some parents feeling they were being judged or that they could not trust some professionals
- Parents value support from their family and wider communities. This includes friends made through accessing group settings, and the role that children themselves can play in contributing to a happy family life
- Children’s Centres, A Better Start and Northern Ireland Surestart were spoken of positively in terms of how they facilitated access to formal and informal support.
This message from parents lays down a range of challenges to civil society in terms of what support should look like going forward. Specifically we may need to consider how we:
- Support maternal mental health through awareness so all forms of support is reached by those that need it
- Incubate informal support networks so no family feels alone
- Build consistently good parent-professional relationships so parents can have confidence in how they are being supported
- Nurture the personalities of children and young people themselves so they can contribute to healthy and happy families both now and in the future
- Make space for family time, rather than creating more support activities that parents have to do away from their children.
Read the full 100 Conversations report.