Dr. Alvin Poussaint
excerpt reprinted from Parenting; November 1994
Alvin Poussaint, M.D., is a founding member of Prepare
Tomorrow's Parents Advisory Board. He is Professor of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School; psychiatrist at Judge Baker Children's Center;
and author of several books including Raising Black Children.
would be very nice if we could require licenses in order for people
to become parents, but we couldn't enforce it. Instead, I advocate
that all high-school students -- male and female -- be required
to take a class in childrearing. It should be hands-on; students
would follow the growth of a child from birth through six months,
visit Head Start programs, and visit a maternity ward. This would
ensure that everyone would have at least a rudimentary knowledge
of child development. Even if they only remember 20 percent of it
by the time they have kids, that's a big step toward improving the
quality of parenting in this country.
is the most important job we have to do as humans and as citizens.
If we can offer classes in auto mechanics and home economics and
civics, why not parenting? A lot of what happens to children that's
bad derives from ignorance. Parents often hit a child because they
don't understand the "terrible twos". You'd be amazed
at what so many parents don't know. They go by folklore, or by what
they've heard, or by their instincts, all of which can be very wrong.
if students took a class, they would have to pass it, and this would
be the equivalent of a license.