Community//

The Case for Parent Education

It is important to educate and empower parents in order to help them—especially those who’re at their wit’s end and just don’t know what to do. That’s where a Parent Education Program comes in.

Being a parent is the most important and most challenging job anybody can have, because children acquire from parents the skills they need to become responsible and caring adults in the future. The very fabric of society itself is woven from people whose ideals and behavior were shaped by those who were most intensely involved in their upbringing: their parents.

Think about it. When we were children ourselves, our parents conditioned us to see them as exemplary role models who shape the definitions of love, relationships, and trust that we carry with us through to adulthood.

And yet, even with a good upbringing, when it’s time for us to become parents ourselves, we struggle with how to pass these ideals on to the next generation. It’s not uncommon for parents — even the most nurturing and well-meaning ones — to have a lack of clear expectations for their role as stewards of their children. It’s also not always easy for parents to figure out how to properly monitor their wards. And then there’s the inescapable dilemma of punishment: What’s enough to instill discipline, and what’s just too much? It’s all too easy to be inconsistent or excessively severe.

Despite the immense responsibility that parenting entails, there’s very little formal training involved, and parents very often find themselves isolated and without adequate support networks.

All too troublingly, this lack of support is a societal problem: our society doesn’t have institutions in place that can help support parents to effectively raise their children. Sadly, despite being a cornerstone of society, parenting receives very little support or recognition.

This is why I do what I do: I wish to educate and empower parents in order to help them — especially those who’re at their wit’s end and just don’t know what to do. That’s where a Parent Education Program comes in.

Simply put, a Parent Education Program is a course that aims to correct and improve one’s parenting skills. Such courses may be general, covering the most common parenting issues; or they can be specific, aimed, for example at parents of kids in a particular age group — infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers.

Parent education is also reflexive in that it makes us take a critical look at our own parents’ parenting style. It’s very important that we think about and internalize how our parents brought us up. We need to be able to identify good and bad parenting styles so that we can be more than simply reactive in life; understanding these differences enables us to respond to situations with full awareness so that we can act in ways that are positive for us and our children.

Not surprisingly, there’s more than a little pushback against the very idea of parent education. People often wonder why parents attend parenting education classes. After all, isn’t good parenting an innate skill? That’s not necessarily true, and even if it were, studies have shown that most parents can benefit from some guidance in order to do the best job they can in raising their children.

Ultimately, parenting education can help build up a child’s ability not just to survive but also to succeed in life. Child psychology professor Laurence Steinberg, in his book, “Beyond the Classroom,” says that research confirms that children raised in supportive, warm, and affectionate homes in which there are clear and consistently reinforced rules are less likely to engage in at-risk behavior and are more likely to be successful later in life.

If we want to educate our kids, we also have to educate ourselves.

Ms. O is an Educational and Empowerment Consultant
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