Leading article: Not the way to reach problem parents

 

Share
Related Topics

Just as there are no easy answers as to how to bring up a child, there are none as regards the role – or not – of the state in providing assistance to parents.

Witness the controversy over SureStart children's centres: either a lifeline for hard-to-reach families or a service dominated by middle-class mothers who need it the least, depending on who is telling the tale.

The Government's latest efforts provoke similarly divided responses. There are two parts to recent developments. One is CanParent, a voucher scheme open to all for £100-worth of parenting classes covering topics such as nutrition and behaviour. The other is an NHS-run service offering parents of very young children information on everything from breastfeeding to post-natal depression.

David Cameron defends the plan from the inevitable charges of "nanny-statism" on the grounds that, although one must pass a test to drive a car, there is no such preparation for the impossible complexities of parenting. While well-worn, the argument is a reasonable one. It is hard to find any parent who was never bewildered, anxious and a potential beneficiary of authoritative and disinterested advice. There is also compelling evidence that the quality of a child's parenting has a huge impact on their development, both intellectual and social. And the wider aim of encouraging society to recognise the importance of parenting is, while nebulous, nonetheless worthy.

What neither CanParent nor NHS videos will do, however, is help with the more extreme cases of problem parenting. The most troubled parents – often young, single, and from highly chaotic backgrounds themselves – are not only unlikely to take advantage of what's on offer, but may not even perceive the need for it. Such an observation does not necessarily make the efforts worthless. But the Government must be clear about what its aims are and who the target market is.

There is a place for services aimed at helping all parents, and their children. What they must not be allowed to do, however, is divert either attention or scarce resources from those with the greatest – and most expensive – needs.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific