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Barriers on families' pathways


Did you know?

Families living in underprivileged circumstances are by definition more likely to encounter more obstacles on their path.

An underprivileged situation is not limited to only economic poverty but also refers to the idea of a plurality of risk factors. Such factors can add up and affect single parents as well as whole families, which in turn makes it that much harder to attain one’s life goals.

Every individual has needs. The paths to their fulfillment may be clear-cut and straightforward or full of twists and turns. Families living in underprivileged circumstances often come up against barriers when attempting to meet their needs and access a better quality of life.

Variable needs and specific requirements

Human beings have many and various kinds of needs. The US psychologist Abraham Maslow grouped them into five types in his Maslow’s Pyramid: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

The main critique of Maslow’s model concerns the fact that the more basic needs have to be met before one can move on to the others. Essential needs, desires and aspirations coexist in the pyramid. However, depending on cultural factors and individual pathways, the order of priority for filling these needs does not necessarily start at the bottom and move upwards, even if that appears to be the most logical sequence.

If we want to offer services that are appropriate and of high quality, it is essential that we are attentive to the needs expressed by the families. Every family faces its own particular set of barriers. Engaging in dialogue allows us to gain a better understanding of their reality and to implement actions that can help restore their ability to act and empower their lives.

Jean-Pierre Gagnier, clinical psychologist and UQTR professor, talks about the importance of stories. (In French only)

Different types of barriers

Barriers can sometimes be rooted in the parent or family themselves, or else they may be occasioned by intervention workers, organizations, government, or society. 

A non-exhaustive list of barriers affecting families’ pathways is presented below. The icons pictured represent the sources of the obstacles. Click on the icons inside the columns to display a description of the barrier.

The parent’s
life path


Individual / Parent

Members of society

The government

Intervention workers

Organizations and institutions