Families matter: the reality of family life in Britain today

Parentline Plus, the UK’s leading parent and family support organisation, has reverted to its registered charity name of Family Lives and is delighted to announce that Deidre Sanders, agony aunt of The Sun, has agreed to be its new patron.

The name change coincides with a new report, Families Matter: The realities of family life in Britain today, a report by families, for families.

The report, based in part on new survey data, finds that 70% of parents and 78% of grandparents think it’s harder to be a parent today than a generation ago. The Families Matter report, launched to coincide with the charity’s name change from Parentline Plus to Family Lives, also found that:

Parents today – unprepared and pressurised

  • 76% of respondents said that they found being a parent harder, or much harder than they were expecting with 78.3% of grandparent respondents agreeing, saying that it is harder to be a parent now than when they were raising their children. 
  • 69.6% of respondents to the Family Lives survey felt that it is harder to be a parent now than it was when they were a child. 
  • 78.3% of grandparent respondents agreed, saying that it is harder to be a parent now than when they were raising their children. 
  • 17.5% felt pressure to be the “perfect” parent with 46.8% of respondents feeling under pressure from the media with 52.1% of Mums felt pressure from that source, compared to 32.8% of Dads.
  • The second biggest source of pressure after the media was the government (29.6%). 

Perpetual parents

  • 84.2% of Grandparents who responded had some degree of involvement in caring for their Grandchildren, with 4 in every 10 grandparents taking on primary childcare responsibilities for their families.  It is estimated that 200,000 grandparents are currently raising their grandparents as proxy-parent, but often with little or no support.*
  • Of those responding to the Family Lives Survey; 17% had additional caring responsibilities, with 5.1% caring for an elderly relative, with those in the 45-64 year old age bracket making up 46.9% of those caring for an older relative.
  • In the Family Lives survey, those with additional caring responsibilities had significantly less time to spend with their child, with 29.3% of those caring for an elderly relative spending 6 hours or more per day with their child, compared to 40.2% of those with no additional caring responsibilities.

Download the full report

Deidre Sanders, Family Lives Patron and agony aunt of The Sun says: “I am delighted to become Patron of Family Lives, a charity long dear to my heart. I regularly refer readers to Parentline and the other support that Family Lives provides. With so many families facing a difficult year ahead, I am sure I will be sending even more their way. The findings of their Family Matters report echo my experience of dealing with readers’ difficult and entrenched problems day in day out. Families need to be supported, now more than ever, to ensure that we are raising our children, the next generation of parents, in the most caring and effective way possible.”

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives (formerly Parentline Plus), Chief Executive said: “We believe that our registered name of Family Lives is a much closer reflection of the full range of our support services and it is right that we go back to it at this time. It’s an honour to start this new, exciting chapter of our charity by welcoming Deidre Sanders as our new Patron. With Deidre’s on-going encouragement, Family Lives will continue to support parents, families and children via our free 24/7 services.  

"Over the many years Family Lives has been operating (as Parentline Plus), we have seen the demand for our services grow and develop. As the report we are also launching today, 'Families Matter: The realities of family life today' demonstrates, parents and families are in need of support today more than ever. We believe that under the banner of Family Lives we will be in a better position to evolve and develop relevant services to meet the growing and future needs of vulnerable families across the country.”

Anastasia de Waal, Chair of Family Lives said: “I am extremely proud of the outcomes that Family Lives (as Parentline Plus) has achieved and am confident it will continue to do so.  Its work transforms the lives of families across the country, using a range of interventions that suit the needs of the particular family at that particular time.  This can be intensive personalised support through a family support worker or maybe a single phone call or personal email exchange. The golden thread that runs through all of Family Lives’ services is peer to peer support, with parent volunteers providing over 20,000 hours of support last year alone. Family Lives is about families helping families. ”