The Art or Science of Parenting

By Parentline, 20 June 2011


There’s that delightful advertisement of the first time mother being handed her new born baby and then reaching out for the accompanying Parenting Manual. For most of us, parenting is probably the hardest job we ever take on and there are few opportunities to learn exactly what the task involves. The expectation is that we all are inherently good parents, when clearly that is not always true.

The government has announced a cash injection for positive parenting programmes.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says funds will be available to community initiatives working with parents. This funding is part of the Government’s latest funding round of its SKIP fund and will assist communities to explore new ways to promote positive parenting.

The funding and associated programmes are mainly aimed at supporting parents of pre school children.

As an example Parentline currently facilitates three parenting programmes.

Parents Building Bridges is a group programme that explores the impact of separation on children. The focus of this programme is where it needs to be – on the children. The programme offers practical tips on a step by step basis and raises a number of pertinent questions that are then openly discussed by those parents in attendance.  A particular component covers the process of accessing the Family Court system and applications for Parenting Orders.

Parentline also offers a Parenting Programme that has recently been revised and will be formally evaluated in the future. The content of the programme is designed to meet the specific needs of the participants.  It is an opportunity for parents to ask all of those questions that we have always wanted to ask, but have dared not too. Participants at a recent group were comforted that their anxieties and fears of inadequacy in their role of a parent, were common to most other participants in the group.

The outcome of this group is that participants are assured that they have the skills and support to deal with the many presenting issues that parents contend with on a daily basis. The last programme I want to talk about is a Maori programme called Te Hiringa Tipu. This is a whanau based programme where we work with both children and parents – on the basis that we often work with children only. In this programme we work with the children and parents separately and then bring the two together to consolidate and strengthen the family unit. The programme uses Maori concepts as a unifying force that gives context to the struggles of living in a modern environment.