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What do you think about Govenrment initiatives in "parenting classes?"

(20 Posts)
Donbean Wed 23-Feb-05 11:01:20

Personally i did a parenting course which was hosted by the Health visitors at my health centre.
It was over a 6 week period, once a week for a morning.
The content was applicable, sensible and informative.
The aim was to reinforce what is "normal" behaviour in small children.
There were trouble shooting sessions for problematic behaviour or any problems people were having.
It was a small group of 5 other mothers (although it is for fathers too if they wish to attend) With children whos ages ranged from 5 months to 7 years.
Some negative comments i got from people when i told them about the classes were:
"you dont need any one telling you how to bring up your kids".
"If you cant do it yourself, you shouldnt have kids in the first place".
"its all airy fairy American influenced crap"
"isnt it for bad parents who have no control over their kids bad behaviour?"

What do you think and would you ever consider doing one of these courses?

Gwenick Wed 23-Feb-05 11:05:50

I think they're an excellent idea. Bringing up children can be scary - even for those who think they're 'prepared' for children. I've never been to one, 'personally' I don't feel I need to but in response ot the negative comments

""you dont need any one telling you how to bring up your kids". - very true, but from what I understand about them it's no different really to us lot on here asking for 'advice' on how to deal with certain types of behaviour, finding out if things are 'normal' and solving problems we hadn't anticipated.

"If you cant do it yourself, you shouldnt have kids in the first place" ...........hmm well that's a bit silly - parenting is DEFINITELY one of those things that comes into the "You don't know unless you try" catergories. It's not about not being 'able' to do it, just being able to do it better.

"its all airy fairy American influenced crap" - hmm well so what if it is???

"isnt it for bad parents who have no control over their kids bad behaviour?" - I think that's down to the media coverage of parenting classes - the only times I've ever heard them mentioned is when i the news you hear of parents with disruptive children being told to attend parenting classes - if a more positive image was shown of them then I@m sure attitudes would change.

Caligula Wed 23-Feb-05 11:07:41

I did a parenting course and found it really useful and helpful and also made a couple of nice friends from it.

I think the problem with making them compulsory (which is being discussed) is that it does stigmatise them and makes it so that normal people will steer clear of them if they fear being labelled as a bad parent.

I personally think they should be offered as a standard for all parents as part of the HV visits/ jabs/ other monitoring stuff which is a normal part of parenting. Then people who didn't want to do them (or didn't have time to) could opt out, while people who did could do them knowing they wouldn't be stigmatised.

Donbean Wed 23-Feb-05 11:08:27

Also, the Health visitors recommended MN to all the women as a forum for discussing any problems, stating that it is an "excellent web site" !Thats how i got here

FairyMum Wed 23-Feb-05 11:15:32

I think it's great to offer them. They should be voluntary, but the problem of course is that people who really need them would not bother. Most good parents would probably read some literature, go on MN or find their own sources for advice. The people who wouldn't do this, would probably not attend a class either.....

Gwenick Wed 23-Feb-05 11:18:01

But can you really define a good parent as someone who

a) would have internet connection
b) would actually 'know' where to find the literature to read (don't forget that most of us on here are very fortunate that we're literate and 'know' where to find advice
c) Know where to find our 'sources' of advice????

Furball Wed 23-Feb-05 11:20:27

I had a post-natal course 6 weeks after DS was born for about 6 sessions, It was organised by my HV. Not only did it re-assure me of what was happening/going to happen, teething, weaning etc with DS. We also had basic first aid. But the best was meeting others in the same boat.

I have also done countless Parentline courses through our local Early
Years Centre and have found them all to be extremely helpful.

I think courses are a great idea as apart from gaining knowledge you also get to meet a huge range of people. Don't know about them being compulsory but to be offered them in the first place is a fantastic idea.

FairyMum Wed 23-Feb-05 11:24:21

There is no definintion of a good parent imo. Of course it's a mixture of things. Parenting isn't academic. You take things from your own childhood/family/friends/tv.........But there are certain knowledge which helps you and your child. For example being informed about sleeping position for a baby, the benefits of bf, how to respond to tantrums (useful to know why they happen and why your child goes through this stage I think).

pixel Wed 23-Feb-05 14:42:27

While I think that parenting courses should be freely available to anyone who wants them, I would be horrified if I was forced to go. Most of us find out what we need to know in other ways such as books/magazines etc and I for one am not averse to phoning my health visitor for advice. That is what she is there for and I've done it plenty of times.

It's probably irrational but I can't shake the feeling that 'compulsory' equals assuming we are all useless parents until we have been through the 'official' program and that there is only one right way to bring up children. As I say, that's only the way I feel and those of you who have been on courses probably didn't find them like that at all. I suppose it's because although I'm quite happy to ask for advice when I need it, I hate to feel that I'm being patronised, if that makes sense?

pixel Wed 23-Feb-05 14:46:06

Sorreeeeee. Just realised that you didn't mention anything about them being compulsory so ignore me!

Ok, I think parenting courses are great for people who aren't lucky enough to have a lot of support like I do, but personally I don't feel the need.

FairyMum Wed 23-Feb-05 14:47:23

Yes, and it does sound a bit "communist state". "You will all parent in this way". Just from reading MN it's quite obvious we are all different. Obviously it would be good if I could write the course material! ,)

Caligula Wed 23-Feb-05 14:48:36

Well mine weren't compulsory, they were voluntary and we had to pay a tenner for them! (But that was returned at the end when we all went out for a meal!)

I agree I'm violently anti making them compulsory - the idea of learning the Tony Blair way of bringing up children is not attractive. (Learning the Michael Howard way is equally scarey in the interests of balance!)

If parenting classes are done well, they are non-judgemental, helpful, general and totally unpatronising. They take into account that every family is different, values and attitudes are different and what works for one family would not necessarily work for another. I actually found them fun and thought-provoking, not remotely patronising or worthy. Which is why I don't think they'd work in a "clinic" or "punishment" environment - it would have to be less official and more neutral to get the right tone.

Caligula Wed 23-Feb-05 14:49:31

In fact, I found them a bit like an offline Mumsnet!

Caligula Wed 23-Feb-05 14:49:51

How's that for a recommendation?

FairyMum Wed 23-Feb-05 14:50:51

The Ann Widdecombe way? I always think she is so motherly, but then she doesn't have children? I am sure she'd have a tips or two about discipline.

Demented Wed 23-Feb-05 14:57:09

I would love to go to a parenting class. When my DS1 was in nursery they offered a parenting course which I was planning on attending but I managed to miss the signing up etc as we were on holiday at the time and didn't realise they had started until they were about halfway through the course but if they were offered again I would try not to miss out. DS1 is now at School and this week his School is offering a behaviour workshop thing where parents can go along and some experts are going to help with different ways of tackling difficult behaviour, I think DH is going to go to this as it is on for a couple of hours and don't see DS2 managing to sit through it.

Demented Wed 23-Feb-05 14:59:21

Also agree about different ways of doing things and don't necessarily think I would agree with everything presented at a parenting course (children and parents don't all come off a factory conveyor belt find it hard to believe that they can truely offer a one-size fits all type course) but would like to find out about different ways of approaching problems etc.

tallulah Wed 23-Feb-05 16:48:20

I think it would be a great idea, especially if it was offered at all stages. So you would go when your baby was tiny, then perhaps again at 4 & at various stages. Yes everyone does it differently but it would be a help to be able to hear someone else say "yes, mine does that" (as mumsnet does) or to be shown alternative ways around a problem (like I was smacked, and smacked my children & wouldn't have a clue about how to deal with a child if I couldn't smack, but presumably I could learn from someone else's strategies what to do instead).

With everyone else about the unease over compulsory classes though.

Tortington Thu 24-Feb-05 00:06:11

i think i have to second the comment about where to find them and also the misnoma about it being for mums who cant cop e and those refered by the courts. do do this there needs to be more advertising of existing courses, courses need to be local to everyone and frequent and cover all ages. sure start are good for doing this kind of thing - but when my 15 yr old got out of hand i had to dig quite deep to try and find a information which may help me as a parent and the existing parentsing classess were either too far away or baby/toddler ones. so they need to have a higher profile, be local, regular and diverse

pixel Thu 24-Feb-05 08:28:48

All true Custardo. All these things need to be easy to access. Also it is true that although help is available when kids are small, once they reach maybe junior school age it becomes much more difficult. My friend has an unruly 15 year old and she is at her wit's end because apart from sending letters home from school reporting his latest behaviour no-one seems to be in a position to give her any help whatsoever. If she had had somewhere to turn when she first had concerns, her son wouldn't be on the verge of being expelled now.

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