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parents panel

Parents Panel: What's the trickiest parenting dilemma you've ever faced?

From whether to go back to work or not to The Great Smartphone Debate.

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AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

This week, we asked our panel to open up about some of the biggest parenting decisions they’ve faced since having kids.

What’s the trickiest parenting decision you’ve ever had to make?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

What age to send our son to school: For the first few years we were adamant that our son (now four) wouldn’t start school until he was five. But in the past year we started to waver. He’s a clever kid and the academic part of school would probably be a good challenge for him. We had a lot of long, detailed discussions about the pros and cons but finally we’ve agreed we are right to wait a year more. He is still very easily distracted and we’d hate to see him labelled as “disruptive” for not sitting still etc. Another year in creche and preschool will hopefully give him the maturity to tackle “big school”!

- Olly Keegan

If I should go back to work after having kids: I used to feel a tremendous amount of pressure to go back to work from friends and some family members. I even went back to college for 2 years but regretted it almost instantly. Ultimately being home with the kids was my priority. If I could go back in time I would have just stayed at home and ignored the naysayers.

- Susannah O’Brien

Accepting that breastfeeding was not working for me: Breastfeeding was something I wanted to do more than anything when my babies were born. It took me 12 weeks to admit that it was not working out and that it was best for everyone to give up. There is so much evidence of the benefits that I had major pangs of guilt giving it up.

- Denise

shutterstock_482677372 Shutterstock / Arunsawat Shutterstock / Arunsawat / Arunsawat

What to do for full-time childcare: Everyone had an opinion on what we should do for childcare for Cliodhna (now one) and I checked out a range of options. In the end we went for a full-time creche. Cliodhna loves the routine and I love the comfort of a formal structure, so it works well for us both.

- Riona Flood

Whether to baptise my kids: When the subject of Baptism came up I was dead set against it. I am an atheist who was raised Catholic. I had (and have) many reservations about the church, and felt that if we as parents weren’t going to immerse our children in the religion there was no point. But my own mother was adamant and long story short, I relented. Not because I believed that baptism was the right thing for the kids, but because I could see that I wouldn’t win the war even if I won the battle.

- Ken Hyland

They’re all tough decisions as a solo parent: Making big decisions is tough as a single parent as you have no one to share the dilemma with. One big thing bothering me at the moment how to be everywhere at the same time. My kids are 21, 17 and 3 so there is always someone who wants to be dropped off, picked up, brought somewhere… and all with a toddler in tow.

- Denise Cumiskey

shutterstock_1075037570 Shutterstock / igorstevanovic Shutterstock / igorstevanovic / igorstevanovic

If I was ready to become a stay-at-home dad: Deciding whether to give up work took time. And once I did go for it, I had to come to terms with the fact that this was now my job and not just a temporary role between jobs. Seven years and four children later, it turns out to have been one of the best life decisions I have made.

- Ross Boxshall

The big smartphone debate: Everything pales in comparison to the current decision we’re facing – should we let our 12 year old, who is going into secondary school, get a mobile phone?  All his friends have one. We are on the side of no, but we realise we will come under increasing pressure to succumb. It’s torturing us.

- Alan Dooley

Help! Am I being unreasonable? We’re looking for parenting dilemmas from our readers for our Am I Being A Bad Parent? feature. Drop us a line with your reader dilemma on

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