5 August 2011

Checklists for Parenting?

I heard about this proposed scheme to give parents a checklist for parenting.  Here are the five daily pledges proposed:
1. Read to your child for at least 15 minutes a day.
2. Play with your child on the floor for ten minutes a day.
3. Talk to your child for 20 minutes with the TV off.
4. Adopt positive attitudes towards your child and praise them frequently.
5. Ensure your child has a nutritious daily diet to aid their development.
Obviously that's a bare minimum (I hope).  I personally find this proposed scheme to be rather insulting.  For one, I tire of the various checklists the HVs have, either telling me how to parent or trying to make all children fit a certain profile in terms of what they do and when.  Yes, I realise that many children will meet certain milestones around certain ages, but we also need to realise that every child is an individual and will meet those milestones at his own pace.

I  also see these five things as being rather common sense, though I know not all parents read to their children regularly or really talk with them.  All the same, it almost seems like it treats parents as being too ignorant to know they should actually spend time with their children.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I'm not sure.  I was thinking about how we're already not given certain information because they don't think parents will actually follow it.  For example, instead of giving parents information on how to safely bed-share, we're told that all bed-sharing is dangerous (not true).  Or how pregnant women in some places are told not to drink any alcohol instead of explaining that light/moderate drinking hasn't been shown to be detrimental and may even have benefits.  So I already see this trend towards treating parents as ignorant, so I'm not hopeful about this checklist.

Something else that's worrying about it is the following statement:
Parents in the poorest 20 per cent of the population could also be entitled to extra child benefits if they attend parenting classes run by the scheme. 
Why is it being assumed that a parent being in the poorest 20% of the population means that the parent isn't a good parent?  Conversely, why is it assumed that not being poor is indicative of being a good parent?   I'm sure parents will take the classes in order to get the extra benefits, with both good and bad parents disregarding the info and carrying on as normal.  Maybe I'm being cynical.  Regardless, I think it's rather silly to come up with such a scheme.

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