Britons need more advice on how to be good parents

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The Independent Online
ONE IN three people thinks Britain is not child-friendly and one in three parents would not know where to go if they had family relationship problems, according to research to be released today at the launch of the National Family and Parenting Institute.

The independent organisation will receive more than pounds 2m from the Government over the next three years to fund research and publicise information about relationships and parenting. Part of its remit will be to identify what services should be made available to families and advise government on future policy.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, is expected to say at the launch: "The Government is strongly committed to supporting families and children. I very much welcome the launch of the institute and look forward to working with them in the future. By being a strong and independent voice it will play a crucial role in creating a more family friendly Britain."

The institute will be run by Mary MacLeod, 51, who was formerly director of policy and planning at the counselling charity Childline.

Ms MacLeod, who has two teenage children and has been married for 20 years, said last week that successful marriages were based on business partnerships rather than romance.

The research of the views of more than 2,000 adults, 70 per cent of whom were parents, showed that half the population believes that Britain does not encourage good parenting skills and would like to see parenting taught at school. Nearly seven out of ten believed that it was not intuitive but rather something that needed to be learnt. Marriage did not feature strongly as important for children with only one in five believing that parents being married was an important part of raising happy children.

Although parenting classes are part of the new institute's agenda, Ms MacLeod said she was sceptical about the "value" of them and wanted to get away from the idea that parenting had to be learnt from professionals. "We want to create a climate of `positive parenting' where advice and support can be aired and shared and sources of help made available that are accessible, appropriate and effective," she said.

"It is a big challenge, but we are already working, with our partners, to provide the millennial family with the support is so clearly needs."