Dos and don’ts when supporting young single parents
These dos and don’ts from both parents and practitioners will help you to treat young single parents in the way they want to be treated. By listening and responding to their preferences, you will build trust and respect and be able to achieve more with the young people you support.
A view from young single parents
• Understand our individual situations. Just because one person might be capable of doing or achieving something doesn’t necessarily mean others have the capability or the support network around them to do the same. These issues need to be listened to and individually addressed.
• Treat me fairly. Offer me CV sessions and good help to find a job and have support.
• Help me find the best solution for me. Get to know me and my situation before ‘telling’ me what to do.
• Listen. Don’t say you know how we feel when you haven’t listened to how we feel.
• Follow through. If you say you will do something then keep that promise. That shows we can trust you.
• Judge or look down on me. By treating us as equals, we will achieve more.
• Rush me to make decisions. Be patient and understand that we have to live with the decisions we make that affect our lives.
• Speak down to me when I’ve made a mistake. Just be there to help!
• I might be young but don’t treat me like a child.
A view from practitioners
• Pick your venue carefully. Participants need to feel comfortable at ease. Community venues can be better than formal environments.
• Work with parents on a one-to-one basis. This can help build positive relationships and result in better engagement.
• Mix up your activities. Fun stuff, alongside learning, skills and qualifications can be combined to meet the needs of individuals within a group.
• Make provision non-compulsory. If they come then they are more likely to engage. Plus it shows respect by giving them control over their lives and the ability to choose what’s best for them and their family.
• Provide childcare whenever possible. A mobile crèche on the same site can work particularly well.
• Pre-judge the young person’s situation or ability. You may be taking a valuable opportunity from them by making assumptions.
• Forget that everyone is an individual. Learn through listening rather than imposing what you think they want or need.
• Give up! It might take a few different attempts to get people to overcome their mistrust or anxiety.
• Get lost in targets. Keep sight of the real purpose of your work – it’s about the young person not the target.
• Overstep professional boundaries. It’s important to provide the necessary care and support, but if you cross boundaries it won’t help either of you.
Achieving goals: Emma's story
Emma says that a focus on enabling young single parents to identify and achieve their goals is what makes Growing Together unique. She says they see her as ‘a person not just a mum’ and the opportunities to learn new skills and accreditation are what keeps her interested, focussed and committed.
“The Money Savers workshop was great. It taught me to budget, where to find freebies and things like how to save for Christmas, which you never learn in school.”
She explained that the variety of workshops, developed in consultation with the young parents, means that they get to learn new skills not just for parenting but for the workplace too.
Emma is currently applying for work in the prison service, which was her goal before she became a mother. The project supported her to take on work experience at Pact in Swansea, which has given her the confidence and experience to apply for paid work.
“The Growing Together workers were with me every step of the way. They believe in me and help with practical things like my CV. I have learnt how to do it so if I have to do it again, I can. Who else would do that for me? They paid for my travel and childcare so I could do the volunteering. Who else would do that for me? Who else would take the time and trouble to help so I can do this? No one else, that’s who! It wouldn’t have happened and I’m really grateful.”
See more of the toolkit
- About the toolkit
- What’s it like to be a young single parent?
- The benefits and challenges of single parenthood
- A practitioner’s role in supporting young single parents
- Dos and don’ts when supporting young single parents