November 18, 2006

"Speak roughly to your little boy,

And beat him when he sneezes;
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases."
-- "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
Which might be considered a nursery rhyme and child-rearing advice all in one.

UK Children and Families Minister and former probation officer Beverley Hughes announced this past week the creation of a new National Academy for Parenting Practitioners next year. From The Guardian:
Many parents have lost confidence in how to bring up their children properly and feel inadequate, isolated and unsupported in coping with the pressures of modern family life, the government has warned.

Mothers and fathers often feel 'disempowered' as parents, and find it particularly difficult to enforce rules so their child does not misbehave, according to Beverley Hughes, the Minister for Children and Families.

In an interview with The Observer, Hughes voiced alarm that parents have much less faith than previous generations in their abilities to raise and guide their children, and wanted help to deal with their conduct.

'I've talked to a lot of parents and one thing that has really struck me, and this is across all social classes, is a sense of lack of confidence around the parenting role - and particularly around setting boundaries for children,' she said.

Hughes ... [announced] plans ... for a new National Academy for Parenting Practitioners to provide useful, reliable advice to parents and children's experts on what has been proven to work, which will start work in autumn 2007.

Many parents clearly wanted help in 'understanding their children's behaviour' when difficult situations arose, she said, adding: 'Increasingly what many parents say they want is help with feeling comfortable with their own authority with their own kids, and being able to set down boundaries and stick to them.'
One help the new, erm, Academy will offer is nursery rhyme classes, according to the Minister, who said,
"Some parents already know that reading and singing nursery rhymes with their young children will get them off to a flying start -- often because this is how they themselves were brought up.

"For other parents without this inheritance these simple techniques are a mystery and are likely to remain so -- unless we act and draw them to their attention."
No word on whether the projected, though apparently not mandatory, classes will teach the modernized nursery rhymes currently in vogue.

The always sensible Carlotta at Dare to Know shares her thoughts on the preposterous pronouncements, and just why parents have lost confidence -- "if indeed they have", she writes -- here.

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