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Parenting Class FAIL
June 22, 2013 permalink
Those parenting classes that child protectors inflict on most targeted families give bad advice. Not all behaviors can be corrected through positive means. The bad advice suits the purpose, since parents following it are sure to fail. The failure justifies further intervention by social services, and more remuneration from the public treasury.
Government parenting advice is 'corrosive and harmful', report finds
Official Government advice telling people how to bring young children up should be torn up because it is “corrosive and harmful” and can damage family life, a new academic report argues.
The so-called “positive parenting” approach which involves avoiding punishment or even criticism while constantly accentuating the positive can do more harm than good and simply “sets parents up to fail”, it concludes.
In the study, published in the journal Ethics and Education, Helen Reece, an expert in family law at the London School of Economics, argues that the official obsession with being “nice” to children all of the time is “arduous, if not impossible” and can simply destroy the spontaneity of the parent-child relationship.
She argues that in extreme cases it has led to parents involved in contact or care cases being judged against an impossible standard and then unfairly marked down by social workers and even judges with major consequences for the rest of their lives.
In particular she takes aim at the official handbooks published by the Department of Health and given to parents of newborn babies, known as “Birth to Five” which combines practical advice on matters such as feeding with more subjective pronouncements about how to speak to children.
Under the heading “Be positive about the good things”, the guide advises new parents that even if their children’s undisciplined behaviour comes to “dominate everything” they must react by talking about something “good” and encourage children to “be themselves”.
It adds: “Move on to other things that you can both enjoy or feel good about and look for other ways of coping with your feelings.”
In the paper Ms Reece explains: “Arguably more than any other child-rearing resource, it represents the accumulation of official, mainstream, advice about how to discipline children: published by a government department, production and distribution costs are funded publicly. Given the contemporary proliferation of widely divergent childcare advice – an era in which we can choose to be a ‘tiger mother’, an ‘attachment parent’ or the mother of a ‘contented little baby’, as advised by Gina Ford, I am interested in exploring advice that comes with a clear and overt official stamp.”
Examining the advice line by line she concludes: “Positive parenting is hard if not impossible work, setting parents up to fail.
“Another persuasive objection is a concern with how parenting positively may destroy the spontaneity of parent–child interactions: ‘I’m praising my child – check; I’ve got a positive tone of voice – check; I’ve adopted appropriate body language – check.’
“The nub of this point is that it is impossible to tell somebody how to be nice, because the very essence of being nice is that it cannot be forced: coerced kindness is a contradiction.”
She adds: “Its serious consequence is that any shortfall in a child’s behaviour can always be explained by the fact that the parent’s treatment of the child was not positive enough.”
Ms Reece called for the Government to remove advice on such issues from official guidelines while still giving parents important information on matters such as a safe temperature for a baby or nutrition.
“I think to be told how to relate to your child is really corrosive and harmful,” she said.
Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, said: "We want to do everything we can to support parents in giving their child the very best start in life.
"A new child is a wonderful experience but it can be daunting, especially for first-time parents.
“It is therefore important that all those who care for children have access to the most up to date information and advice.
"The new NHS Information Service for Parents - launched just last year - provides expert, trusted advice for both mothers and fathers and it has proved extremely popular.
"Over 160,000 parents have signed up so far and the feedback we receive is excellent.”
Dr Ellie Lee, director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at Kent University: “The view has become prevalent that bringing up children is far too difficult and too important to be left to mere parents. The main beneficiaries of this have been so-called ‘parenting experts’.
“There is no evidence, however, to suggest Britain’s parents have gained anything from being told that professionals have the answers.
“This article makes some very important points about the dangers of making policies about how to raise children and I hope some politicians will listen to what she is telling them.”
Source: Telegraph (UK)