Two parents hold the hands of a toddler.

PHOTO: Parents fear they’ll be judged if they admit to struggling with parenting, but those that don’t get help can become isolated.(Flickr: Kat Grigg)

Mummy blogs and parenting forums have cornered the market on family advice, but research has found many people won’t seek help because of a fear of judgement.

The pressure to portray a perfect family image is blocking parents, especially low-income earners or those with health problems, from reaching out.

Research from the Queensland Family and Child Commission shows almost 72 per cent of Queensland parents worried about being judged if they struggled with parenting, and 76 per cent avoided telling others outside their family.

Principal commissioner Cheryl Vardon said the unrealistic standards set online added to the pressure families felt.

“I’ve looked at some of the blogs, news feeds and websites online, and they do require a certain level of perfection and possessions,” she said.

“Not all families will be up for that and can feel judged or wish that they had a different life.”

She said it was particularly difficult for parents on low incomes, and who experienced employment difficulties, mental health issues or disability, but all experienced stress and avoiding help could be dangerous.

“Parenting is a really hard job and shouldn’t be underestimated — it’s tough” she said.

“Families can become isolated if they don’t ask for help and the problems that they experience can be made worse, in fact.”

Instead of logging onto parenting blogs, Ms Vardon encouraged people to seek out one of the 48,000 parenting services in Queensland alone that offered judgement-free advice.

Parenting services can help

The commission has launched a new campaign to encourage parents and the people around them to start conversations about getting help, through their Talking Families advice service.

“Asking for help is a simple thing; it doesn’t have to be complicated,” Ms Vardon said.

“It can be as simple as noticing if somebody needs help and sitting down with them for a chat or making a time to have coffee.

“It’s about being watchful and watching out for some of the stresses that families might be experiencing.”

While many parents feared they would be judged, the research also showed more than 90 per cent of Queenslanders would offer to help a struggling friend or family member.

Only 17 per cent of parents had used a parenting support service, but 93 per cent of those that had reported it made a positive difference.

Ms Vardon said many saw tangible improvements in their family lives.

“There’s an enormous sense of relief that there is somebody who understands, who has the expertise, and who doesn’t judge,” she said.

“They are the three key things to the best services.

“That enormous sense of relief means the reduction of stress. Families, parents, and the wider extended family then are in a place where they’re more able to deal with the experiences that they have.”

Ms Vardon said trusted family and friends, GPs, schools and support services were all good places to seek help.


Categorized in: