We Should Follow In The UK's Footsteps And Offer Free Parenting Classes To Anyone Who Wants Them

by Valerie Williams
Image via Shutterstock

Britain will offer vouchers for parents to take classes to learn more about child-rearing.

It was the inimitable Jackie Kennedy-Onassis who once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” That’s pretty brilliant and also, very true. Yet, besides tons of books written by “experts,” not much is available to parents in the way of learning the ropes. That’s why it’s fantastic that Britain’s government is set to offer parenting classes to anyone who’s interested. And if we’re being honest, we could all probably use them.

Have you ever wondered how it is that you can leave a hospital with your newborn baby without so much as taking a short quiz but you have to take a test to drive a car? It’s a little daunting bringing home a brand-new baby without much instruction but beyond that, parenting older kids has its own set of challenges. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron recognizes this and to that end, is set to announce plans to expand the country’s previous 2011 offering of vouchers for parenting classes to the under-privileged to include anyone who’s interested.

The Guardian quotes Cameron as saying, “In the end, getting parenting and the early years right isn’t just about the hardest-to-reach families; it’s about everyone. We all have to work at it. And if you don’t have a strong support network – if you don’t know other mums or dads – having your first child can be enormously isolating.” Well, isn’t that a breath of fresh air. He’s right on every count. There’s not many other times in life where a person needs “a village” the way they do while raising children.

He goes on to remind us that children “don’t come with a manual” and stresses the importance of educating parents beyond those first months and years. “What about later on, when it comes to play, communication, behavior and discipline? We all need more help with this – the most important job we’ll ever have. So I believe we now need to think about how to make it normal – even aspirational – to attend parenting classes.”

What about later on, indeed. Sure, we get plenty of advice from nurses at the hospital about the proper latch and how to swaddle, but where’s the teacher for talking to our kids about bullies or helping us learn to stop them from sassing back? Parenting is complicated and messy and as the old saying goes, “little kids, little problems.” As kids get older, raising them becomes a lot stickier.

We take classes to learn how to give birth to our children, a time where we’re literally surrounded by doctors and nurses every step of the way. Wouldn’t it make sense for parenting classes to be just as popular as prenatal classes? It seems that educating parents on how to raise their kids would be a logical step toward improving society as a whole. And who could argue against that being a good thing?