Parenting classes. How do you feel about that idea? More specifically, how would you feel about the government urging all new parents to attend a parenting class?
Would you welcome the opportunity to attend a class which might help bolster your parenting skills and arm you with some new tricks for tackling tricky parenting moments? Or are you of the view that parenting is something even the most capable of us could use a little help with?
The Guardian explains the context to this story:
"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."
Personally, I'm a major fan of parenting classes. It might seem odd, given that many of us ascribe to the idea that we don't need any help working out how to be a parent, ta very much. But going on a parenting class was something I fell into accident by virtue of being a parenting journalist - an Editor of mine got wind of the fact that increasing numbers of new mums and dads were signing up for classes in how to parent effectively, and she promptly sent me off on one.
I don't mind admitting that it was hands down the most helpful experience I've ever had in my parenting 'journey' (and I have to feel really strongly to use that silly word) in spite of the fact that I've tried more than my fair share of quirky parenting fads in the name of work.
That's not to say that I would have described myself as a struggling parent before discovering parenting classes. But spending quality time in the presence of a parenting experts who were artfully skilled in teasing out our trickiest parenting challenges truly changed everything from the way I felt about my children, to how I viewed my role as a parent.
I left each class feeling like I'd been enlightened, longing that all my friends and family members could access the support, encouragement and guidance that I'd found in parenting classes.
It changed my parenting style completely, too. From co-sleeping and shouting to the naughty step and fussy eating, parenting classes afforded me the opportunity to think more deeply than real life allows about the snap decisions and instinctive reactions that make up parenting for many of us.
I love the thought of everyone having the opportunity to learn as much as I did from a parenting class, and in the context of the myriad problems that seem to be facing more and more children growing up these days, I can only think that parenting classes could offer a lifeline to kids who might otherwise not get the kind of parenting that everyone could benefit from.
That said, I'm not naive enough to think that socio-economic issues like poverty can be magicked away by incentivising parents to take classes. If only it were that easy.
And I'm no fan of David Cameron - even I found myself bristling at the notion of taking a parenting class when urged to do so by him - despite knowing first-hand the value of a parenting class. I'm over that initial reaction now though, and figure the outcome is the positive thing to focus on, not the notion of dear Dave telling us all how to raise our kids. This isn't about that, and we know it.
When you look at it like that, you'd have to be bonkers to think that parenting classes are a bad idea. Wouldn't you?
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this. How would you feel about parenting classes being offered to all new mums and dads? Would you sign up for a parenting class? Come and share your views over on our Facebook page.