Parenting and families are important parts of our society. However, many decisions made by governments recognize the role of parents in building the future only partly. Unfortunately, ignoring the important role parents play in building our society has a direct impact on every section of our life.
When parents cannot support themselves, it is hard to expect them to support their children. Many of the skills required to be a good parent cannot be developed from feeling enormous love towards the kids. I used to say that "love is the answer", but although love is the foundation of parenting, it is not enough in order to raise healthy, happy, good, smart, social, successful and contributing citizens.
If parents cannot manage their own health and wellbeing, how can we expect them to teach their children health and wellbeing? Professionals study a whole degree to understand how to handle kids' emotional or physical health, yet our society expects parents to just know what to do as soon as their first child is born.
If parents cannot manage their financials, how can we expect them to teach their kids to manage their own financials? Some people study accounting and money management in high education institutes to be able to manage money, yet society expects parents to somehow come up with ways to manage their finances well.
If parents cannot manage their relationships (see divorce rate), how can we expect them to set an example and be role models for better relationships for their kids? Relationship is the most neglected subject in 12 years of schooling. People get help only when they already have a big problem.
If parents cannot balance their work and their life, how can we expect them to raise a whole generation of children with good work-life balance? The demand to work longer hours is increasing. A better lifestyle requires more money to support the growing family and most people do not find the formula to manage their priorities.
Parents have a greater role than just taking care of their kids and making sure they eat, sleep and go to school. Parents are in charge of ensuring the future will be better.
Governments can support parents by investing in the right places to prevent greater expenses in the future. For example, if parents could support their kids' health and wellbeing, the health system could be smaller. If parents could support their kids' relationships or to manage their finances, the welfare system could shrink and the government could invest more in development, infrastructure and economic growth.
This week, I asked the top parenting bloggers for suggestions we could give government policy makers to support parents and improve parenting and here is what they thought about it. It is interesting to read what they think. Enjoy!
What should government policy makers change to support parents and improve parenting?
Sue Scheff - Sue Scheff Blog
Creating more programs to help parents with at-risk teens. We truly don't have enough support groups/programs for parents that are struggling with troubled teens.
Susan Heim - Susan Heim on Parenting
In general, I don't feel the government's role is to legislate parenting issues. Ideally, we learn how to parent through our families and religious institutions.
Annie Fox, M.Ed. - From the desk of Annie Fox
Mandate parenting classes and relationship classes for high school and college students.
Maria Melo - Conversations with Moms
I live in Canada, where the crucial first year of a baby's birth is supported by a 12-month maternity leave. I was in awe about the differences between government-supported maternity leave between countries. The government should make staying home easier during the first year for parents by offering some economic support.
Invest more in the educational system. Like the saying goes, "Children are our future" and school plays a big role in giving them the tools they need to succeed. Programs should be revised to meet the current needs and times (perhaps including a personal budgeting course when you're young to help instill important early habits).
Annie - PhD in Parenting
Greater support for breastfeeding (don't just say it is best, create an environment where every woman who wants to breastfeed has all the support she needs - ban formula promotion, provide free and easy access to lactation consultants, ensure workplaces are supportive of breastfeeding moms, etc.
Ensure that all families have access to quality, nutritious foods to feed their children.
Create and support a network of human milk banks.
Ensure access to quality, affordable day care for all that want it.
Ria Sharon - My Mommy Manual
I don't know enough about government policies to make 5 suggestions, but I would say there are a lot of resources and programs out there already that support parents (Parents As Teachers, HeadStart). Support these programs with funding.
Richard "RJ" Jaramillo - Single Dad
Create a "Rescue Fund" for families that are suffering through this world recession. A short term fund that helps families with the necessities such as rent, food, utilities for 90 days.
Ronit Baras - Family Matters
Promote parenting schools for free through school and day care system. Investing in parenting translates to enormous savings in education, health and prosperity of our society. For every parent who does a bad job in parenting, the whole society pays and most times, the payment is for life.
Invest in early childhood instead of putting all the energy and money into high school. The first 5 years of a person's life are the most important.
Reward parents for staying together. The economic toll of separation of couples is huge. Invest in communication skills and in better relationships. If the emotional support for parents keeps them together and happy, kids will benefit from it greatly.
Make education mandatory until grade 12. A friend of mine, who works for the government, said that now in Australia, every kid must be in the system until the end of grade 12, either studying, in an approved vocational program (there is even an approved home-schooling system) or in an apprenticeship. If not, they do not get any government support, nor do their parents get any child allowances for them. I think this is brilliant! I would encourage all governments to do something similar that will keep kids in the education system until the end of grade 12.
I hope many people who work for the government get a chance to read these suggestions. If you have any more suggestions, please share them with us via the comment box below. The more suggestions we have and the more we advertise them, the more we increase the chance that someone who can will act on them.
I would like to thank Annie, Sue, Ria, Maria, RJ, Susan and Annie Fox for sharing their thoughts and ideas with our parent readers.
If you want to know more about the bloggers who take part in this project or contact any of them, please visit their blogs, follow them on Twitter and/or become their fan on Facebook. Alternatively, you can send them a question or comment through the comment box below.
Join us next week's Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss "What, if any, are the differences between parenting boys and girls?" Gender is a very hot topic in the parenting world and I am curious to know what each of them thinks. I hope you are curios too.
We are approaching the end of the Top Parenting Bloggers Discussion, so I wanted to encourage you to send me some questions for discussion with your thoughts.
This post is part of the series Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss:
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (1): Introduction
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (2): Parenting Challenges
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (3): Best Parent Qualities
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (4): Parenting Changes Life
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (5): Ideal Child
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (6): Education
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (7): What drives you nuts?
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (8): Discipline
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (9): Profound Parenting Moment
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (10): Parenting Tips
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (11): Government Policy Suggestions
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (12): Parenting Boys and Girls
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (13): Parenting Teens
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (14): How to Keep Your Kids Healthy