There has been a news story this past weekend about the Government wanting parents to take classes in child-rearing skills. Apparently the aim of this is to keep families together, because those that do are less likely to be in poverty. However I am not quite clear on how teaching parenting skills keeps parents together and if that is always necessarily desirable.
It is right that parenting is the most important role that we will have in our lives, and I certainly believe that stability for children is key in helping them grow up in a positive way. But parents together is not always the most stable or positive option for children, and parents apart does not have to mean certain poverty or inadequate parenting.
People who respect themselves and each other, who have self-confidence and a sense of identity are the most positive and stable. There are people out there who are like that, but so much of what I read and see in the world around me indicates that there are many unhappy or insecure people and they reflect negativity and doubt in their parenting too.
For a long time I struggled with not being a happy person, but it wasn’t until I had children that I found the motivation to change myself into a stronger better version of myself. If I had not done so I know that I would not be as good a parent as I am now. Parenting is hard and if you are not emotionally prepared for it then it is likely to have some unwanted results.
But I had the resources and time to mend myself. And not everyone has the same fortune or insight as me to be able to do so. To improve parenting and improve relationships, I believe, although a little simplistic, that it is crucial to improve the mental health of people first and this will indirectly have the desired effect anyway.
I don’t have all the answers as to how we got here and why as a society we have become self-doubters. But I do know that those who need to take a bigger role in their own lives have become disempowered. So I think this policy is a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted, tackling the effect and not the cause. We need to work with parents and children to help them first discover what life they want for themselves. I think that parents ultimately want their children to succeed, whatever that means to them.
Giving people positive skills for self development and communication, rather than being prescriptive or dictatorial, is more likely to achieve successful people. Current education is a machine, and young people do not get a chance to adequately express themselves or to develop their own sense of identity. We are not robots on a production line, we are all individuals with different roles to play.
Ultimately, I can’t help but feel that those who need help the most, don’t need it for their children but for themselves. If those people who struggle with parenting were happy, confident, and self-assured, it would aid them in being better parents. It is not indulgent or looking at the wrong part of the equation, mental health is the chicken and egg of positive parenting.