Based in Rome, REC Parenting is an invaluable online space for parents, offering reliable, science-based advice and information on parenting, all in one place.
We spoke with Founder and CEO Dr Ana Aznar about her journey, what first inspired REC Parenting and the different resources and support services they provide parents living abroad.
REC Parenting is an online platform supporting parents and caregivers throughout the entire caregiving lifecycle, from those first moments of considering starting a family to how to manage young adults, to coping as a grandparent, uncle, aunt or blended family. We provide 24/7 support through:
1) Video masterclasses by top experts in their fields. Parents receive scientifically based information in small bites.
2) One-to-one support from qualified counsellors and clinical psychologists. Parents can call or video call their therapists.
3) A blog on many different topics related to parenting.
4) A motivational and inspirational podcast with prominent thought leaders and personalities about their parenting experiences.
I have always loved kids and have always been fascinated by how they develop, how they learn, the choices they make, and how parents influence them. Indeed, I find it very odd that not everyone shares my passion! When I studied psychology as an undergraduate, I realised that I was particularly interested in parenting and family relations.
Once I became a mum myself, I understood that as much as I adored my kid, it was tough! It is difficult to understand how drastically your life changes until you have a child. If we add to it, the pressure of raising a family while managing all the other pressures that we have in today’s society, it is not surprising that so many parents and caregivers are struggling. We know that when parents struggle and have high stress levels their children tend to do worse, therefore I strongly believe that it is a social obligation to support parents and their children. This is the aim of REC Parenting.
Once I finished my undergrad in psychology, I realised that I wanted to support parents and children, so I went on to do a master’s and a PhD in child psychology. My original plan was to become a clinical psychologist working with children, but I enjoyed teaching so much (I started teaching while doing my PhD) and doing research, that I stayed in academia.
However, throughout the years, it was a rare week when someone wouldn’t phone me asking about different issues that either they had with their children or someone they knew had. I kept thinking that there should be a place where parents could go, where they could find all the information they needed, with experts they could trust. And that, in a nutshell, is REC Parenting.
After playing with the idea for a few years, during the pandemic (and my 40th approaching), I reassessed what I wanted to do with my future, and decided to go for it, and created REC Parenting. It is very different to anything I have done before, I had never created a company before, never done a business plan, and didn’t know much about social media (I never had Instagram before) so I am learning something different every day. On top of that, I am getting to meet fascinating experts and practitioners, from whom I am learning so much. It is proving to be an amazing journey and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to fulfil my dream.
You are spot on! There is so much information out there but at the same time, many parents say that they don’t know who to trust and where to go for advice. At REC Parenting we work with the leading experts in their fields, and they give us very detailed accounts of the state of the research in their areas of expertise.
If there is contradictory advice in their respective fields, they tell us, and they explain why such contradictions exist. We are a very young company, and so far, all our information is 100% up to date. In addition, we are committed to completing a yearly audit of our content to check that all information is still relevant and adequate.
As you can imagine, it depends a lot on the ages of their children. As parents of young children, we are seeing worries about how to deal with tantrums, discipline, and issues around feeding and sleep. With older children, we are seeing parents concerned with issues around mental health (especially anxiety), drug and alcohol use, self-harm, and online porn. Screen time is a big worry amongst parents of children of all ages. We are big on supporting parents of neurodivergent children because finding resources and navigating through diagnoses and treatments is particularly hard for them.
Being an expat family brings wonderful benefits, but it also brings its challenges. Many parents raising expat kids (or third culture kids) worry about their children feeling that they don’t belong anywhere. The feeling of not belonging in the country where they are growing up while at the same time not fitting in their country of birth is quite common among expat kids and it can be quite unsettling. Families living abroad may also feel quite lonely and isolated because they don’t have their extended families around, putting more pressure on the parents.
We cater for all stages of parenthood, from the moment you are thinking about becoming a parent (be it through pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy…) to late adolescence.
One of the main problems in the parenting industry is that there are so many people giving advice and information without having the right qualifications or the appropriate expertise. At REC Parenting we pride ourselves in only working with leading experts in their fields and with qualified clinical psychologists and counsellors. We choose very carefully who we work with so parents can be 100% certain that the information they receive is scientifically based and delivered by ‘real experts’.
One-to-one sessions are online only. No matter where you are, we are here for you! Do you know there is new research saying that online therapy is as effective and sometimes even more effective than in-person therapy? Also, parents must know that our therapists are available not only to offer ‘traditional therapy’ but also to answer any questions they have about raising their kids, such as “My child has a lot of tantrums, what do I do?”, “I think my child is being bullied, what do I do?”. It does not matter how big or small the question is, our therapists are ready to answer them.
In the masterclasses (that can also be listened to in podcast format) we talk about anything related to parenting! And if our clients are looking for a topic that we don’t yet have, our commitment is that we will create that resource for them. We touch on all kinds of topics: breastfeeding, infant sleep, choosing a nursery, tantrums, dentistry, emotional development, nutrition, the teenage brain, educational apps, self-harm, maths anxiety, raising a neurodivergent child… You name it! We are constantly creating and uploading new content to the platform.
In the podcast, we talk with people that we find interesting, such as writers, businesspeople, and sports people about their parenting experiences. So far, we’ve had guests such as TV presenter Nicki Shields, racing driver Lucas Di Grassi, and climate change activist Christina Figueras. With each guest we try to focus on a different parenting issue: becoming a mum, divorce, losing a child… The rationale behind the podcast is that by sharing experiences, we realise that we are not alone in whatever it is that we are going through.
Rome is a magical place for kids! The Italian culture really embraces kids, so you can take them everywhere and they always make you feel welcome. Rome is full of fun and historic activities to do with the children, it is super walkable, there are green spaces, the food is fantastic and the weather is beautiful. The sea is under an hour away and with a great railway system you are only a short train ride away from Florence, Naples, Milan or Venice. What is not to like about Rome?
Moving abroad (whether by choice or not) is a period of unsettlement and it is important to realise that each family member will take the news and adapt to the change differently. I would recommend that parents not tell their kids until they are certain that the move is happening for sure and to involve them as much as they can in the process. Ask their opinion when choosing the school, the house, let them decorate their rooms, let them have a say on after-school clubs… Doing this will help them to feel more in control at a moment when they may be feeling unsettled and angry.
It is really important to embrace the move and make the most of it even if you are not happy to be moving. If you move thinking that everything will go wrong, things will most likely go wrong! A positive attitude and an open mind are key to making the move a success. You may feel lonely at the beginning, but I certainly remember moments of deep loneliness when I moved to London more than 20 years ago (especially when I had my first son). Get involved in as many activities as you can to get to know people. Join the school’s parents’ association, look for expat groups, attend baby groups, join groups related to your hobbies or do some volunteering work.