Parenting classes are only for poor, feckless or criminal parents, right? Wrong.
We all need help to be good parents, every last one of us.
A high income or a successful professional life in no way magically makes us the warm, firm parents that children need. Often just the opposite – as every private school head in the country would agree.
A few days ago, I had lunch with a lawyer friend who was consumed by the problems of her children. She needed to find someone who could offer her elder son a job, and she needed to find the money to set this son up a flat in London. She had just managed to steer the younger son into a place at art school, but now needed to find him a place in a student house where he can find friends. All this, after years spent swopping these boys from one school to another, and helping them find alternative university places when their first ones failed.
These ‘children’ are now 30 and 28 and are both -- she admits –crippled by a lack of self-confidence and an inability make decisions. Yet she sees no link between her behaviour and how her boys have turned out. She believes her job is to problem-solve and make her children’s lives as smooth as possible, and she simply has no idea that children sometimes need to stumble and fall, or live with the consequences of their own choices, to become mature and independent adults.
That’s why I’m thrilled that the writer and editor Christine Odone, head of the Legatum Institute, is founding a National Parenting Trust to encourage parents of all kinds to take parenting classes which she knows, after researching parenting class provision across the UK, can be “life-saving, life-changing and fun”.https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/it-helps-to-admit-your-failures-as-a-parent-mf8fpjxfq
And I know that what she is proposing will not only produce happier and healthier parents and children, but also help society at large. Because, after a lifetime as an educational writer – and exasperated by what saw in the classroom -- I wrote two slim e-books, Backbone, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Backbone-Build-Character-Child-Succeed-ebook/dp/B00X5Y5YV8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491921151&sr=1-1, and The Six Secrets of School Success, https://www.amazon.co.uk/6-Secrets-School-Success-ebook/dp/B00X5Y625A to introduce a few sensible, all-round ideas of genuinely supportive parenting that I had developed through absorbing the psychological research and visiting hundreds of schools and nurseries around the world.
Then, when I started to give parenting talks to parent groups of kinds, I realised these ideas were completely new and exciting to many of them, and that after every talk, anxious parents would pull me aside to chew over problems they were wrestling with.
So I wish the National Parenting Trust every success with rebranding parenting as something we all need to learn about as we go along. And I look forward to the many happier children and adults who will be the result.