Should all parents take parenting classes?

16 November 2016
Reading time3 mins

It’s the hardest job in the world. You work long hours, get little thanks, are often covered in various bodily fluids and don’t even get paid for doing it. Yep, that’s parenting. For first timers especially, it’s often a steep learning curve. So, would parenting classes help?

When asked if they thought Australians needed parenting classes, more than 63% of Lateline viewers said “yes”. But how could they be introduced and would parents take part?

Margaret Bell, CEO of the Chain Reaction Foundation, which aims to engage people in the development of their communities, said if a parenting program was offered through schools, many parents would be inclined to take part. “Parents are already at the school,” she told Lateline. “They're connected with the people around them there. They're going to feel more comfortable to be able to attend a parenting program or classes or a skills-based kind of program that's already at a place they already feel familiar with.”

David Hawes is an associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Sydney, which has developed ParentWorks, a free online program, designed to improve parenting skills. He told Lateline that while the program is available to mums and dads, it has been designed especially with fathers in mind. “We've made a program that's father-friendly,” he said. “So our focus is really on getting both mothers and fathers involved, because that's really the way that we see the best results from parenting interventions. 

“We've spent some time doing research: meeting with fathers, talking about their experiences and their concerns and also what they'd like to get out of parenting programs. And some of the barriers have been things like difficulty finding time, concerns about cost, concerns about effectiveness,” he added.

Another parenting program is the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, which is available in some states.

Education Minister Kate Jones said Triple P, which promotes a constructive relationship between parents and their children, leads to better outcomes in the classroom. “It makes sense that if a child is well adjusted at home, their ability to perform well at school and interact positively with others will be enhanced,” she said.

Triple P Queensland program director Carol Markie-Dadds said Triple P and education were a natural combination. “Years of research proves the best thing a parent can do to set their child up for success in life is to raise them in a positive, nurturing home environment,” she said.

Child safety minister Shannon Fentiman added: “Parents and carers are required to provide school uniforms and books to prepare their kids for school, but it’s just as important for parents to prepare themselves for the school years by learning as much as they can about how to parent effectively.”

Parenting author Melissa Hood told Lateline: “I think that parenting classes need to be as common as antenatal classes. You know, we all prepare for the birth of a baby, but that's like getting ready for your holiday and then not actually going on the holiday.” 

For more information about Triple P visit www.triplep-parenting.net.

What do you think? Should all new parents take parenting classes?

Read our article about antenatal classes just for dads here.

Written by

Kerry White

Kerry is the Senior Writer for Kids on the Coast and Kids in the City. Kerry moved to Australia from England in 2013 with her husband and two daughters. She worked as a sub-editor in London for seven years before she had her girls. She now calls the Sunshine Coast her home and is making the most of its glorious weather and beaches. She enjoys baking, especially when she has a glass of wine in hand, and is a part-time Psychology, Criminology and Justice student. She also shares her home with two cats and her daughters' imaginary dogs.

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