An Auckland University Professor writes in today's NZ Herald;
Good parenting is a critical public health issue. Raising children is the greatest challenge we face in a lifetime.
It's a job most tackle with the best will in the world but with virtually no preparation or education for the role.
Just the opening sentences have raised my hackles.
As soon as someone evokes 'critical' and 'public health' in the same sentence you know their proposals will involve collectivism and inevitably, compulsion. Individuals will disappear to be replaced by an amorphous mass.
And sure enough. That's next.
It would be wrong to assume that all parenting problems rest with the most socially disadvantaged. Research shows that families right across the social spectrum suffer stress and anxiety over the many issues that arise - and in some cases escalate - between children and parents who wish they could find effective solutions.
But it would be right to assume that the most severe parenting problems lie with the most socially disadvantaged. The reason why is completely missed by this writer because, going back to his opening , he believes parenting is "...a job most tackle with the best will in the world but with virtually no preparation or education for the role."
That is rubbish. We learn how to be parents from our own. If we were raised with love and care we will almost always repeat the lessons. But if the family is decimated or dysfunctional, the lessons are not worth having.
So based on his faulty summation of the current state of affairs he proposes parenting courses for everyone.
A whole-of-community approach to supporting parenting can be contrasted with the traditional "clinical" approach of targeting only the most troubled parents with the most difficult children. We stand a better chance of reducing child abuse and preventing behavioural or emotional problems if parenting programmes known to work are available to all parents.
And he is quite open about why he wants parenting courses universally available (or required if the Children's Commissioner gets in on the act). So those who are the most lacking are not stigmatised.
Political correctness is frequently misunderstood and used as a battering ram by the rude and the rednecks. If you really want to understand it, the above proposed approach is a perfect example.
Now we get to what the Professor, also a director of the Queensland Parenting and Family Support Centre, really wants here;
Every Family was Australia's largest public health trial and the positive findings were numerous. The exercise identified a need for widespread intervention in parenting and showed it was feasible to deliver an intervention on a large scale.
Not to put too fine a point on it, there is probably a buck to be made by Mr Academic.
It's only through communities coming together and working to help ordinary families become confident and competent in dealing with common behavioural, emotional and developmental problems of children that we will see a reduction in major mental health problems in children - and an increase in functional, happy families.
It would come as a shock to the writer, no doubt, that advocacy of 'public' solutions and state intervention has, over the past few decades, torn apart families by replacing the support members traditionally gave each other, with state support. Or perhaps he is slightly more sophisticated and believes that what the state broke, the state must fix.
Forget it. The state cannot deliver "...an increase in functional, happy families." The best hope for that eventuality is for it to get out of the way and allow the redevelopment of individual responsibility.
Let’s take a holiday
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