Explaining how communities can be lighthouses for parents during life’s storms is an evidence-based communication tool
Changing the conversation about parenting
The Reframing Parenting project is an important national effort to help children. It’s doing this by helping people to talk and think in more productive ways about parenting. And it’s based on research involving more than 7500 Australians.
There is much evidence available about what children need to develop well. But this major project has found that the way we communicate this information to parents is ineffective.
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What the public thinks
This is because the way we communicate does not take into account the culture around parenting in Australia. This culture includes dominant views about parenting as something that comes naturally, as an individual pursuit, as a one-way thing done to children and as something determined by the way a person’s own parents acted.
This thinking makes it hard for people to accept there are things we can do to improve parenting. It also means they are less likely to seek help when they need it. And they are more likely to feel judged when they don’t ‘measure up’.
What the evidence says
Evidence, though, tells us there is much we can do. We know that parenting involves a set of skills that can be learned. Also, we know there is much that societies can do to improve parenting – through the policies they design for children and families, the way they deliver services and the investments they make in parenting support.
So, if we want to get that message across and do the best we can to help children, we need to communicate with parents in ways that work.
What we learned
We commissioned the FrameWorks Institute to conduct a major piece of research around how to communicate the evidence around parenting and how to help Australians think strategically about the benefits of investing in parenting support.
This work, built on five years of child development research, found that we need a new story or ‘master narrative’ that involves talking about parenting in terms of child development rather than parents being effective. This “switches on” rich and productive ways of thinking about parenting.
What reframing parenting means in practice
To reframe how we talk about parenting means beginning our communications with what children need to develop well, rather than what parents should do to be effective. It also means we must stop highlighting how hard parenting is, because that gets people stuck on problems rather than solutions. The research also shows a way forward on how to use metaphor to help explain that the external environment shapes parenting. It shows that describing the parenting experience using a navigating waters metaphor really resonates with the Australian public.
Watch the webinar on reframing parenting
Our Director of Policy and Practice Annette Michaux covers the main points from the research in this ARACY webinar.
Who is involved?
The Australian Government Department of Social Services, the Department of Education and Training Victoria, the NSW Government Department of Family and Community Services and The Benevolent Society have all committed funds to this research.
The Department of Social Services is now funding us to work with other organisations to implement the research findings. Many organisations are embracing this work, such as the Every Child campaign and NAPCAN, the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Use our tools
- Use the Communications Toolkit to start reframing
- Use our poster resource in your work
- Read the research report
- View the presentation delivered at our Sydney and Melbourne Reframing Summits held in 2018
- Read the original Perceptions of Parenting report that maps the gaps in undertanding about parenting in Australia
- Read our summary article on the project published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies
Get in touch
- Contact us to discuss possibilities around reframing parenting