I read this morning that there is a proposal to trial a scheme in 4 areas which offers parenting classes to parents with children under 5. From what I could find out, one of the areas that the government proposes to trial this is Camden, North London, where Husband and I once lived several years ago.
The charity Children and Young People Now say that the scheme will “cover how to promote positive behaviour with better communication and listening skills; managing conflict; the importance of parents working as a team; the appropriate play for a child’s development; understanding the importance of boundaries and routines to children; firm, fair and consistent approaches to discipline; and strengthening positive relationships in the family”.
They are limiting the trial to 50,000 parents and at this stage I couldn’t find out how these parents will be chosen or whether people will apply but apparently vouchers will be offered to help with the cost of the classes.
Now, depending on who was giving the lessons and how they planned to deliver said advice, I would be keen to sign up and take some lessons, just as long as I didn’t have to pay too much for the privilege. I know very little about parenting beyond common sense and reading. If I was planning to acquire any other skill, I would seriously consider taking lessons rather than just attempting to get by using trial and error, so why not parenting lessons. I personally don’t see there being any/much difference (excepting of course, my initial provisos about the *who* and *how*) between this, other lessons or ante-natal lessons that I plan to attend to prepare for the birth.
Yet I am sure that there will be people who bristle at the idea of being told or instructed in the art of what is, essentially, being a better parent. Which is what it really boils down to. Anyone with a child becomes a parent. These lessons are about improving your ability as a parent. Which some may consider starts from the premise that they are a *bad parent*. Which some people may well be. There are bad parents out there. Or, ones that make different decisions to the ones I expect to make. But the majority of parents are just doing the best job that they can with their circumstances.
I think the idea of the government is a good one; if they can carry it out successfully. Making parents feel they are empowering themselves, rather than being punished. And, available to all parents, regardless of income. Having money doesn’t make you a better parent, just as having limited money doesn’t make you a worse one, although I would argue that limited money makes life in general more difficult.