David Cameron released a statement saying that all parents should be offered parenting classes, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Being a parenting expert, I see the huge impact that parenting classes can have on family life. As Michael Levine put it: ‘Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist!’
Parenting is the most important job you’ll ever do. And children don’t come with a manual. I wish people didn’t think that only ‘bad parents’ benefit from parenting classes. Parenting has changed in the last decade or so; 15 years ago, we didn’t even have Facebook, or YouTube! Our world is changing, and so must parenting. Good parents are willing to learn new skills and every parent benefits from discovering the latest psychological and behavioural strategies that parenting specialists know are effective ways to change children’s behaviour. Techniques, such as 14 ways to discipline your child without raising your voice. Or the ‘Only ask once’ technique.
Often parents ignore issues for years, like poor sleep habits, answering back, angry outbursts or addiction to computer games or Facebook. Parents hope their children will grow out of bad habits, and if parenting classes were universally available, parents wouldn’t need to feel bad about coming on a course. Parenting classes are fun, interactive and non-judgemental, and give parents the opportunity to discuss difficulties, discover new tools and share good practice.
It’s very easy to criticise something when you haven’t experienced the value of it. For all those critics calling the government proposals being part of a ‘Nanny State’, please reserve judgement until you’ve attended a course for yourself, or talked to parents about how much they enjoy and benefit from parenting classes.
Everyone in the UK will benefit if today’s generation of children grow up to be well-mannered, responsible good citizens. If we can help make parenting classes universally acceptable, people will see that courses are for good parents who want well-balanced, happy children who grow up to achieve their potential.