Implications for policy and practice


The UP2YOUTH project has collected a number of case studies on policies and practices in our research fields. These case studies have been selected to represent current trends in policy-making in Europe. An explanation of the idea behind this collection can be found here.

In the following, UP2YOUTH coordination team member Barbara Stauber draws policy and practice implications from the UP2YOUTH research findings. More general policy implications of our research can be found in the "Results" section of this website.

In the field of transitions into parenthood a core concern is not to reduce young men's and women's choices to the timing of parenthood (too early or too late).  Policies that aim to support young people in the shaping of their transitions into parenthood need to be cognizant of the young people's needs and interests, and to be aware of the young people's subjective interpretation of concepts such as parenthood, mother and father, and family forms.

Biographical dilemmas resulting from the difficulties in reconciling different transition demands need to be recognised. Policies addressing core problems in transitions to parenthood contribute to;

  • The solving  the difficulties in   reconciling young parenthood with training,

  • The reconciling  young parenthood with the demands of the workplace and career development, including an influencing  enterprises such as implementing family-friendly work cultures so as to encourage active fathering

  • The reconciliation of young parenthood with youth life.

This includes

  • Temporal policies, such as access to part-time education,

  • Access to public childcare facilities and accommodation. This includes innovative ideas around supporting private solutions for childcare to allow for flexible use based upon individual needs and life arrangements;

  • Monetary transfers,

  • Gender policies.

On this policy level we are returning to the basic idea of securing spaces for young people to navigate and create their own ways into parenthood. For example, space for negotiation among partners and between generations regarding issues such as work share or housing always have an underlying crude material basis, which has to be provided for in social policy.

However, in order to make use of space for negotiation, additional programs are needed to support young people in family activities. This includes parental and familial education which is not limited to competency in baby care traditionally provided by medical counselling. It requires support in all those areas which are necessary for shaping a relationship under new circumstances; for developing and defending concepts of partnership in everyday life, and for negotiating with institutions and employers.

Modern parental education needs to therefore include concepts such as gender competence, civic participation, and accessible local facilities for the creation of one's own networks.  It should recognize that not all young parents have access to such programs and that this access is something which has to be actively created and organized. The New Deal for Lone Parents in the United Kingdom is one example how educational elements are included in employment programs for lone parents, empowering them in doing family differently.

A further dimension refers to the policies which support, empower and acknowledge informal network building, e.g. father's networks.  These networks are crucial for strengthening young people's ability to actively shape their transitions into parenthood. Additionally, they allow young parents to renounce normalising scripts dictating when the transition into parenthood should take place and how parenthood should be perceived.

Policies addressing specific groups run the risk of stigmatising respective groups. This requires the formulation of policies which acknowledge the development of each person's own imagery of how to be a young parent. The UK Father Figures Project serves as one of the scarce examples of this type of programme.

Two examples of policies which have the potential of bridging the three topics of transitions into parenthood, migration and participation in an exemplary way are (1)‘the Brede Schools' in the Netherlands (addressing ethnic minority families and allowing the reconciliation of family and work) and (2) the ‘Mothers' project in the city council of Alessandria in Italy (bridging the topic of transitions into parenthood and participation, a feature of all policies which support networking initiatives  for young parents).

The collection of current practices which follows in the end of this document represents a set of snapshots. The majority of these practices do not include all the of dimensions or aspects mentioned above but they are relevant steps in the further development of policies appropriate to supporting young people in their transitions to parenthood and as actors of social change.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 July 2009 )