When you hear the word ‘parenting’ what images come in to your mind?

Positive or negative thoughts? A mixture of both?

As a parent of a 15 year old I know I am learning how to parent as I go along. But what is my reference point? My parents? Friends with children?

Looking back I can remember eating evening meals as a family, playing games, talking, support with homework, them wanting me to fulfil my potential. I learnt a lot about how to be a parent from them.

The research shows that parenting impacts children’s lives. The director of research at the Sutton Trust, Connor Ryan explains that there is a “clear link” between good parenting and children’s “education, behaviour and future employment”. He also states; “The educational divide emerges early in life, with a 19 month school readiness gap between the most and least advantaged children by the age of five”.
But what happens when you haven’t had positive role models of how to parent?

Some of the organsiations we work alongside who focus on working with under 6 year olds explain how parents / caregivers don’t know how to stimulate their child and provide an appropriate environment so their child can flourish.

_MG_5494Poverty adds to the challenges in this context. Gould and Ward explain that ‘Parents struggling with poverty are more likely to suffer from depression and depressed parents are more likely to use harsh punishment and to be inconsistent in their responses to their children’s behaviour. Mothers in this situation are less likely to be affectionate towards their children, and more likely to use corporal punishment.’

Therefore parenting is an issue that we have started to explore with a few organisations connected to the network. The organisations recognise that a holistic approach is most appropriate which considers spiritual, emotional and social, physical and cognitive development, and that the parents / caregivers need to be educated themselves, that they need to be educated on the role they play in the development of their child and how they can support their child.

Organisations are identifying that they could support parents / caregivers through:

  • Parent meetings
  • Support groups – to cover various elements including syllabus, nutrition, health and safety, special needs and should be practical
  • Parenting course

It will be interesting to see how this progresses. Organisations are keen to learn from one another so the next step will be to share resources that could be used when educating parents / caregivers.

Gould, C. and Ward, C., (2015) Positive parenting in South Africa: Why supporting families is key to development and violence prevention, Institute for Security Studies

The Telegraph, (2014) Four-in-10 children ‘missing out on good parenting’ [online], Available from [Accessed 13 April 2016]

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