Parenting: Do we really need lessons?

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A man holding a small child in a protective hug

Parenting is hard. There’s no doubting that. But there’s an age-old debate about whether it’s an innate skill that kicks in the minute your precious little one is born or whether it’s something that’s taught and passed on from one generation to the next.

There’s been so much research on the subject and on the effectiveness of parent skills training, so we took a look at what the top experts (parents) had to say about classes or services that can help you learn how to raise your kids.

We asked nearly 2,000 parents throughout Queensland about parenting — the good, the bad and the ugly. We asked them if they had ever used parenting support services or parent education programs (such as programs that provide emotional support, and information and advice about raising kids).

What did they say? We learned that only 17% of Queensland parents had actually attended a parenting service or program. We’re the first to admit, we were a little surprised. Does the low number of parents who use services mean they aren’t very helpful?

Turns out this isn’t the case. The parents who had attended parenting classes or used support services had good things to say about them.

An impressive 93% of parents who had used a parenting support or parent education service in the past 12 months said it made a positive difference for them, and 94% said they would recommend using a service to other parents. We were secretly thrilled with that.

So why aren’t more parents accessing help if they feel overwhelmed with being a parent? Queensland parents told us that getting help made them feel like they would be judged as being a bad parent and that things probably weren’t that bad anyway and they should just suck it up.

But kids don’t come with a handbook, and all parents struggle occasionally. It’s okay to ask for some help.

When parents do ask for help, they’re often surprised at how much support is available. Parenting support and education programs provide information about child development, tips for setting boundaries, ideas about dealing with children’s challenging behaviour and strategies for communicating better between family members. And it’s not only Queensland parents who think these services are helpful. Research from around the world shows parenting education programs reduce the frequency and intensity of children’s challenging behaviour, improve the relationship between parents and children and increase parents’ confidence to be parents.

So if you feel like family life is getting out of control and you could use some help, why not look into a program or a service near you? We reckon that, like the 93% of parents we spoke with, you’ll be glad you did.

You can search oneplace community service directory to find a parent support service or program near you. There are over 48,000 Queensland family support services listed in this directory, so there’s something to suit everyone.

And why not join our Talking Families Facebook community? You’ll find information about events, tips for parenting, and ideas about getting support for you and your family.

Last Updated: 25 June 2020