woman in field holding small child

Recent popular Netflix series MAID follows the story of a mother trying to do what is best for her daughter whilst dealing with lots of obstacles along the way. The show outlines some of the difficulties of co-parenting, such as conflict with partners or co-parents, problems surrounding work and money, alcoholism, and support on negotiating relationships. These are all common things we come across in our FREE Reducing Parental Conflict course, which helps people co-parent amicably.

Hannah 3  By Hannah Piper 

One of the main things the mother, Alex, deals with is her lack of economic freedom. Throughout the series the amount of money she has is tolled up on screen, and she is often caught in a position where she is unable to afford the basic amenities she needs for her daughter, such as a full food shop - even with vouchers to help. This throws Alex into a difficult balancing act in which she has to juggle her job as a maid with taking care of her daughter - eventually leading to Alex returning to live with her daughter’s father, who on the outside seems helpful, but ultimately tries to control and intimidate Alex. Alex attempts to also get support from her mother, but her mother is too preoccupied with her own relationship and commitments to be attuned to what her daughter is struggling with at home. Many of the parents we work with are dealing with similar situations in which they are in conflict with their co-parent, are unemployed, and have limited support to help with childcare and other basic needs. It goes without saying, this has a significant impact on Alex’s mental health and her child’s wellbeing. During the festive period, problems like this can become more obvious, making conflict between parents worse. Stress at this time of year also increases because of the social pressure to be together as a family and to be happy.

Often parents may be unaware of the impact that conflict has on their children and of the long-term impact, especially if the conflict is ongoing and unresolved. During the last 20 months the pandemic has manifested health concerns, fear, uncertainty, and unemployment. These factors can lead to breakdowns within families and to many feeling isolated, without anyone to turn to. Our Parenting Together courses offer a place for parents experiencing conflict, whether they are together or separated, to discuss their relationships and deal with the issues at hand. In MAID, Alex eventually finds a group to join in which she can discuss these issues, and we see how much this helps her in dealing with her situation and feelings of isolation.

Another issue which MAID highlights is alcoholism and how it can affect a co-parenting relationship and the children within the family. We see examples of this when the father goes back to drinking after they experience a turbulent conflict. The episode shows repetition of him coming home late with a six pack of beers, and Alex gradually falling into a depression. It has been found that alcoholism within families can cause high levels of confusion and stress, which can make children who grow up in such environments more susceptible to substance abuse and other mental health problems (SAMHSA, 2014). As MAID depicts, alcoholism can also disrupt a child’s routines, meaning a child may miss out on steady mealtimes or bedtimes. Our programme recognises the issues drinking can cause within a family, and helps parents create a happier, more secure and stable environment for their children.

How we can help

You can view more information on our programme that addresses couples with a toxic alcoholic relationship. If any of the other issues here stand out for you and you want more information, you can read about our Reducing Parental Conflict programme or call us on 020 7380 1960 to find out more and to apply for this free support.

We provide support to families living in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Peterborough, Essex, Southend and Thurrock.
We also provide support within London to families living in Camden, Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Chelsea & Kensington, Brent, and Westminster.

Works cited

SAMHSA. (2014). What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families

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