Parents being judged: it’s the last thing children need
There was a surge in the public discussion around parenting in the 1960s and 70s, and with it came increased scrutiny of parents.
“We are on pretty safe ground to say that parents have never been under more scrutiny and have never been subjected to more blame than they are today,” says Parenting Research Centre CEO Warren Cann.
Speaking on the Feed Play Love podcast produced by Babyology, Mr Cann says with widespread media interest in parenting and the proliferation of social media, the tone of the conversation around parenting in public forums is often negative.
“Not all discussion has been bad,” he says. “But it is common for parents to read all about how they are failing themselves and their children.”
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The consequence of negativity – from strangers in the street, friends, relatives and partners – can be a loss in confidence.
“Parenting is a confidence game. And when you start to lose your confidence that you’ve got what it takes to parent, that can have significant implications for children,” Mr Cann says.
What can society do?
Doing children a favour by giving their parents positive opportunities to learn on the job is key.
“When things go wrong for children it will be about more than just their parenting.
“It is not about parents not caring or not trying or a moral failure on their part. Almost universally you will find it is about parents facing a level of difficulty they are not prepared for or you will find they are under a level of stress or having to operate under significant adversity and in all of this you’ll find they are trying to do the best that they can do.”
Three kinds of support
Parents need three different kinds of support, Mr Cann says.
- Practical support: child care and day-to-day assistance
- Emotional support: encouragement and understanding
- Information support: supporting decision making and developing parenting strategies and skills
Children and parents will benefit if we can:
- Think of how to best provide this support and
- Ease off on the tendency to blame parents when something goes wrong