Todays news features a speech David Cameron is expected to make tomorrow on parenting, and his want for people to attend parenting classes.
According to The Guardian:
The prime minister will call for a revolution in child rearing this weekend by suggesting that all parents should attend classes on how to discipline their children.
In a move likely to enrage those fearful of an encroaching “nanny state”, David Cameron will say that it should be the norm for parents to receive instruction on how to behave around their offspring.
As part of a speech on the family, Cameron will announce plans for a parenting classes voucher scheme, claiming that all parents need help and that there is too little state-sponsored guidance on offer.
“In the end, getting parenting and the early years right isn’t just about the hardest-to-reach families; it’s about everyone,” Cameron is expected to say on Monday. “We all have to work at it. And if you don’t have a strong support network – if you don’t know other mums or dads – having your first child can be enormously isolating.
“Of course they don’t come with a manual, but is it right that all of us get so little guidance? We’ve made progress. We’ve dramatically expanded the number of health visitors, and that is crucial. But that just deals with one part of parenting – the first few weeks and months. What about later on, when it comes to play, communication, behaviour and discipline? We all need more help with this – the most important job we’ll ever have. So I believe we now need to think about how to make it normal – even aspirational – to attend parenting classes.”
Read the rest over at The Guardian.
A couple of things about this (in no particular order):
I associate classes, with learning how to do something. Is there a right way of being a parent?
David Cameron is expected to say “having your first child can be enormously isolating.” Thank goodness for Sure Start centres already existing, and already helping with this. Oh hang. haven’t a load been closed? If David Cameron is that keen to start parenting classes, why cant he throw this money into Sure Start and other Children’s centres, and use some of that for parenting classes?
I had the the phrase Nanny State going around my head before its mentioned in the article… didn’t the Conservatives in the past accuse the (then) Labour government of running a Nanny State?
I know I’m being negative about this, but I do like the idea of helping people know how to parent if they want it. I can imagine parenting classes being helpful if you’re memories of your own parents aren’t great, or you’re not in a stable position yourself.
It could be the choice of language that I have a problem with? Perhaps “Parenting Support Groups” would be better? Safe places in the community were people can come, with or without kids, and mix and talk with more experienced parents? Possibly have a few “parenting help” videos playing in the corner? A library of books to borrow? Staff who can signpost to other agencies as needed? They can be places of casual learning and support, without the risk of being told the right way of being a parent.
Looking at the above paragraph, I cant help but think that there isn’t much there on top of what other groups (EG Childrens / Sure Start Centres, Nappuccinos, Churches) already do. David Cameron used to speak about a Big Society, why doesn’t he support the people in the community to help parents more, rather then spending the extra money on setting up something massively new?
Besides… Didn’t David Cameron leave his daughter in a pub?
Whats your thoughts on these plans?