How do children and young people in Ireland experience the process of their parents' separation and divorce and subsequent changed family life? Giving recognition to children's experiences.
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Traditionally, children and young people in Ireland have not been given the opportunity to have their views heard on matters that affect their lives. The conceptualisation of children and childhood has, however, changed in the last number of years, culminating in the constitutional change brought about as a result of the 2012 referendum on children's rights. The many changes in policy and practice relating to children's and young people's lives have called for an increase in their participation about matters of concern to them. Changes in family life, particularly when parental separation has occurred, however, is one area in their lives where involvement in decisions concerning them remains low. This study sought the views of fourteen children and young people of their lived experiences of parental separation, divorce and subsequent family change. Underpinned by the new sociology of childhood, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and participatory methodology a qualitative narrative enquiry into the subject was carried out. Following a narrative analysis of the data, the experiences were further analyses through the lens of Honneth's Theory of Recognition. The results showed that there is a minimisation and misrecognition of children's and young people's experiences at a number of levels across Irish society - within families, in schools, within the family justice system and in broader society. The research concluded that the theory of recognition can provide a useful framework for children's and young people's participation in personal and family matters when combined with the principles of participation enshrined in the UNCRC.
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