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Cameron defends parenting classes for newly expecting

  • 9 Comments

Free parenting classes are not a “nanny state” policy, David Cameron insisted as he unveiled a number of initiatives aimed at helping families.

The prime minister said it was ludicrous that people had to train before they were allowed to drive a car but could bring up a baby with no practice at all.

Vouchers for £100-worth of parenting classes are now on offer from high street chemist Boots and health professionals to parents of children aged up to five in three trial areas.

There will also be a new targeted NHS email and text service aimed at those expecting a baby or in the first month of parenthood.

It is designed to provide “regular, relevant and tailored” advice such as videos of midwives demonstrating bathing and other techniques, plus advice from other parents.

Initially the parenting classes will be piloted in Middlesbrough, Camden in north London and High Peak, Derbyshire - but they could be extended throughout England and Wales if successful.

Courts can already impose such classes on parents of unruly children, but ministers hope that the involvement of Boots will persuade families to see them as just as normal as ante-natal classes.

 

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • Latterlife Midwife

    I think this is a brilliant idea. Hopefully well worth whatever cost is involved. People with the least resources often need the most help to get started on the path of good parenting. I wonder how they plan to measure 'successful,' so that other areas might benefit, too. Lastly, I hope there will be an emphasis on the importance of nurturing infants with hands-on love and touch, breastfeeding, talking, cuddling, babywearing, whispering, baby massage, etc, so young parents learn more about the emotional exchange between them and their babies than just about bathing and buying pushchairs & layettes.

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  • "Lastly, I hope there will be an emphasis on the importance of nurturing infants with hands-on love and touch, breastfeeding, talking, cuddling, babywearing, whispering, baby massage, etc, so young parents learn more about the emotional exchange between them and their babies than just about bathing and buying pushchairs & layettes." comment above by
    Latterlife Midwife | 18-May-2012 12:31 pm

    shouldn't this be a spontaneous natural part of parenting (even thought some sadly may fail), as it always has been in the past for most parents, which might be damaged by social engineering and teaching? It is like bringing up kids from textbooks and they will sense if parents are not relaxed because they are always worrying whether they are doing the right things at the right time according to 'the book'.

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  • "There will also be a new targeted NHS email and text service aimed at those expecting a baby or in the first month of parenthood.

    It is designed to provide “regular, relevant and tailored” advice such as videos of midwives demonstrating bathing and other techniques, plus advice from other parents."

    doesn't sound very much like tailored advice but rather a flood of information which could cause further stress to new parents. It seems what is needed is a platform where parents can get advice and support for their own queries.

    As for a Boots having the monopoly and using taxpayers money in this way, I am not convinced that this is in order. How about the rest of the vulnerable population needing support and advice do they get free £100 vouchers (presumably tax free) too?

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  • Latterlife Midwife

    @Anonymous | 18-May-2012 12:43 pm

    It should certainly be a natural part of parenting, but I get the feeling that's quickly lost. There is great pressure to distance a mum and baby as soon as possible, as if the little one must learn to grow up too soon. Mums are told by their parents and peers not to spoil a newborn by holding too much, not to bother feeding naturally and by the baby's own needs; to get baby into their own room and never co-sleep (despite safe rules to follow); by expecting baby to sleep through the night and not disturb. It's sad, but the natural desires of new babies and their new mums and dads are criticised and suppressed by our society. Enhancing their self-esteem by showing how vital they are is a step in the right direction.

    I think the more we encourage parents to sense, understand and accept normal infant needs; encourage expression of maternal & paternal instincts; and give a huge boost to assisting women in succeeding in breastfeeding past the first week/month, the better society will be. Very often, I get the feeling they're only looking for the validation to be the best parents they can be by having support to stand up in the face of societal and family pressures. This can be done by showing the magic of newborn behaviour and parental hormones, and by showing parents we are on their side and how important they are to the healthy development of their little ones.


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  • Latterlife Midwife | 18-May-2012 2:43 pm

    from @Anonymous | 18-May-2012 12:43 pm

    many thanks for your time in giving an interesting an lucid explanation.

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  • I think it's a great idea. I was a Health Visitor and ran these parenting courses, (using much the same advice as the TV programmes) and when I have kids, I will go on a course too. I think when communities were stronger and the extended family was living together, parenting courses may not have been needed in the same way as parents learnt from their relatives, friends and elders, but that doesn't happen so much anymore. This is an alternative.
    We would always say that it is impossible to spoil a baby with too much attention and that they should be comforted when they cried and fed on demand - none of that 'baby whisperer' 4 hourly military regimen thanks very much. And yes, breast fed babies can co-sleep, but there are more concerns with bottle feeding. Breast is best in so many ways!

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  • Was all this advice once in the antenatal classes before they were reduced or indeed if they exist at all in some areas. I think it's a great idea I would have welcomed more information when I was a new parent. I remember asking a midwife on the ward if someone could show me how to bath my newborn as I had had no personal experience with babies before and it was all scary. I was there 4 days and in that time there was no time to be shown.

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  • I am spitting blood! This is all the role of the midwife and health visitor whch has been eroded over time until now all that happens is that midwives only see women at very infrequent intervals and do not offer any parent craft classes anymore and HVs are the safeguarding police! Quite frankly, I am sick to death of not being able to build a therapeutic relationship with new parents so that they know who to contact for advice (the HV) re parenting thus then call OOH services inappropriately.
    It smacks of more bottom wiping rather than empowering the public!

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  • Anonymous | 20-May-2012 1:47 pm - I agree with you! It was the main reason I left Health Visiting (that and the paperwork). How can you tell which families are 'not routine' if you never get chance to visit them, and how on earth will they remember to contact you when their children are over two, if they have only seen you a couple of times in the first few months of life?

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