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WHAT EXPERTS SAY

At a time when the extended family has broken down, and more and more teenagers are parents, we are in dire need of parenting education. Being a parent is one of the most important jobs we have to do in our short time in this world. That's why parenting education must become part of our schools' curriculum. Every student, boys and girls, should know some of the basics about being a good parent and child development before they become a parent.

Bill Cosby, Ph.D., Acceptance Message, National Parents' Day Coalition Awards Ceremony, July 1994


It may well be that the nation cannot survive - as a decent place to live, as a world-class power or even as a democracy - with such high rates of children growing into adulthood unprepared to parent, unprepared to be productively employed and unprepared to share in mainstream aspirations.

Douglas W. Nelson, Executive Director, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Time Magazine, 3 June 1996


Is it not strange. . . . that one of the most important and difficult skills, raising children, goes untaught? Learning parenting skills is vital because the early experiences of children's lives impact their potential for learning and for mental health. We need to create better parents because neglected or abused children are especially prone to perpetuate this cycle when they become adults without resources for healthy parenting. . . . School-based Parenting Education programs can help to prevent future child abuse and work to build healthy children by developing an understanding of child development in future parents and by providing parenting skills such as empathy, listening, problem solving and critical thinking.

The Congressional Record – House, Congressman Bob Filner, 24 May 2005.


One of society's deep seated assumptions is that teaching a skill in school is the best way for a child to learn it. Isn't it strange that the most important and difficult task so many people face - raising children - goes untaught? By making both boys and girls aware of the importance and complexity of child rearing, classes could bring down teenage pregnancy rates, reduce the number of deadbeat dads, and promote caring, responsible mothering and fathering. Regardless of how much detail these boys and girls remember by the time they become parents, the class has imbued them with a deep sense of the reality of parenting, of the sacrifices and demands as well as the joys.

Myriam Miedzian, Ph.D., social philosopher, professor and author: Boys Will Be Boys; Breaking the Link Between Masculinity and Violence.


With smaller and more isolated families, the opportunities to learn about the joys and responsibilities of parenthood at home have been reduced, and responsibility. . . has shifted primarily to schools. . . . The task force recommends a substantial expansion of efforts to educate young people about parenthood. . . . Education about parenthood can begin in elementary school; it should start no later than early adolescence.

Carnegie Corporation of New York, Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children, April 1994.


It is now possible for a person eighteen years of age to graduate from high school without ever having had to do a piece of work on which somebody else truly depended...without ever having cared for, or even held, a baby;... without ever having comforted or assisted another human being who really needed help.... No society can long sustain itself unless its members have learned the sensitivities, motivations, and skills involved in assisting and caring for other human beings.

Urie Bronfenbrenner, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Human Development, Cornell University, The Ecology of Human Development.


The way a society functions is a reflection of the childrearing practices of that society. Today, we reap what we have sown. Despite the well-documented critical nature of early life experiences, we dedicate few resources to this time of life. We do not educate our children about development, parenting or about the impact of neglect and trauma on children. As a society we put more value on requiring hours of formal training to drive a car than we do on any formal training in childrearing.

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., Research Professor of Child Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine and Chief of Psychiatry,Texas Children's Hospital, and John Marcellus, M.D., The Impact of Abuse and Neglect on the Developing Brain, on Scholastic™.com (2000)


I have long believed that the development of a child does not begin the day he is born - or at age three - but much earlier, during the formative years of his parents.

Edward Zigler, Ph.D.,Sterling Professor of Psychology, Yale University Director, Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Exploring Childhood Program Overview.



It is important to help children learn as much as possible about parenting to help prevent social problems like premature child bearing, and child neglect and abuse. Now that we know more about brain development in the very young, it is critical that we teach our future parents the important role that parents can play in stimulating and nurturing their children, and in preparing them to reach their full potential in school and in later life.

Edward Zigler, Ph.D.,Sterling Professor of Psychology, Yale University Director, Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Testimony on behalf of An Act Establishing A Parenting Program before State of Connecticut Select Committee on Children (1999).


XI For every child such teaching and training as will prepare him for successful parenthood, homemaking, and the rights of citizenship; and, for parents, supplementary training to fit them to deal wisely with the problems of parenthood. . . . “for EVERY child . . . regardless of race, or color, or situation, wherever he may live under the protection of the American flag.”

President Herbert Hoover, The Children’s Charter, developed with 3,500 experts in 1931, citing children’s rights as the “first rights of citizenship,” including “adequate standard of living,” health and safety, education, etc.


Imagine if children, starting in kindergarten or first grade, had a track on human development along with biology. . . .imagine what it would be like for kids to know about human development the same way they know about math. . . . If they knew the fundamentals of how babies and children grow, they would not only be better baby-sitters, but when it came time to being parents. . . they would have an intuitive sense and lots of hands on experience.

Stanley I. Greenspan, MD

Recommendations on Public Education and Human Development Literacy:

  • An organized, federally led educational effort mandating education in human growth and development is needed in grade schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges. . . .
  • A human growth and development curriculum should have the same level of importance as History, English, Science, or Math, and including readings, hands-on experience and discussion appropriate to the child's age and the issues relevant to that age. Physical, psychological, and social factors, and expectable emerging capacities and challenges should be considered. The goal is human development literacy.

T. Berry Brazelton, MD, and Stanley I. Greenspan, MD

from The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish (2000)


For over twelve years I have implored Governors, legislators, Boards and Directors of Education to implement a ‘Parenting Curriculum' in the school system. . . . as a Family Court Judge for almost ten years, I cannot count the number of times that children come before me unaware that the physical and/or sexual abuse they were suffering at home was not the norm.

The Honorable Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Chief Justice of Guam, The 1999 State of the Judiciary Address; A Report to the People of Guam


I advocate that all high-school students - male and female - be required to take a class in childrearing. . . . This would ensure that everyone would have at least a rudimentary knowledge of child development. Even if they only remember 20% of it by the time they have kids, that's a big step toward improving the quality of parenting in this country. This is the most important job we have to do as humans and as citizens. If we can offer classes in auto mechanics. . . and civics, why not parenting? A lot of what happens to children that's bad derives from ignorance. . . . (Parents) go by folklore, or by what they've heard, or by their instincts, all of which can be very wrong.

Alvin Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; author: Raising Black Children, quoted in Parenting Magazine, November 1994.


Our Department co-sponsored a conference (on brain research). . . bringing together researchers, policy makers, educators and others. A report issued after the conference . . . said this: "Participants agreed that parenting skills are paramount to raising healthy and literate children, and that schools have an important role to play in teaching today's students --tomorrow's parents --about what it takes to nurture a child." I could not agree more.

Richard W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education, conference remarks, September 1998.



Given that the relations between parents and children --- particularly during the formative early years --- so profoundly impact our lives and our society, why are courses on parenting literacy and competency not part of the school curriculum?

Certainly parenting classes for adults are important. But the adults who need them the most are often the least likely to take them. So this schooling has to start much earlier . . . . experiential learning of caring and caregiving behaviors as part of the school curriculum is important for all children, but it is essential for neglected and abused children as well as for children who, in their homes, have learned to associate caring with fear, coercion and violence . . . . children can --- and should --- be given the opportunity to experience the joy that comes from caring and caregiving as a way of helping them acquire different attitudes and habits for their own lives.

Riane Eisler, Ph.D., from Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century.


The crucial challenge for educational policymakers is to acknowledge the inevitable role schools play in character development and to consciously decide whether public schools should be doing more to produce men and women worthy of marrying our children and parenting our grandchildren.

Michael Josephson, founder and president of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition and the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics; in The State Education Standard (National Association of State Boards of Education), Autumn 2002


Given the latest findings on brain development, I'd . . . .make parent training a mandatory part of the high school curriculum, for boys and girls.

This is particularly urgent in light of recent research findings that children's language, thinking and emotional health are largely formed before age 3 - long before they ever go near a school.

William Raspberry, Washington Post columnist, September 1999 and June 1997


Oprah Winfrey: I'm thinking there needs to be a universal unified teaching system in the schools to teach people how to parent.... What do you think of that idea.... in the schools, like in high school as a course that you take?"

Vice President Al Gore: I think it's a great idea. I think that parenting education is an idea whose time has come.... The curriculum in a school is always locally determined, but I am very much in favor of parenting education. For one thing, we all see... the continuing impact of generational patterns.

The Oprah Winfrey Show, 11 September 2000.


Parenting need to be inculcated early in life. Just as citizenship has been in the past and service learning is now being required in schools, departments of education have to start offering classes in valuing and preparing for parenting and family life. These should take place as early as middle school, and a secondary course should be required for a high school diploma. Too many of us have taken the role of parent for granted and used trial and error, and parenting on-the-run, as our process, often at the expense of the children. The more parents believe in the importance of their job, the more information they will seek.

Jim R. Rogers, CFLE, Parent and Family Life Educator, still learning, inc.


Why do we require training and a license to drive a car but have so little regard for preparing students to be parents, workers, or family and community members? These skills are not innate and should be taught K-12 - and not as an add-on or elective. Life is the final exam!

Marilyn Swierk, CFCS, CFLE, Vice President, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences


All students in elementary, middle and high school should learn about the stages of infant development and the effects on infants of differing kinds of caregiver behavior. By the time these students become parents the details may be forgotten, but the central messages of such courses are likely to endure: that prenatal care, attention and responsiveness to infant behavior are essential. Conveying those messages in elementary, secondary and high schools has the added benefit that future fathers as well as mothers will be exposed to them.

Zero to Three National Center for Clinical Infant Programs, Heart Start; The Emotional Foundations of School Readiness.


Our fervent wish for the future is that child abuse and neglect be eradicated. . . . More realistically, we hope that a heightened emphasis is placed on parenting education in our high schools so that young people will learn how to care for children and have accurate knowledge of what to expect in a child’s natural development. Only when young parents have been thoroughly educated in the realities of child rearing and realize that each child is a precious gift from God will abuse, neglect, and abandonment be ended, perhaps forever.

Sara O’Meara, Chairman/CEO and Yvonne Fedderson, President, Childhelp USA


Schools must become the primary vehicle . . . for providing parenting training for children and adults. . . . Schools are in a key position to offer preparation for parenting and life skills development beginning with very young children in kindergarten through critical preteen and teenage years. . . . Development of these critical life skills would do much to prevent neglect in the current and next generation of parents.

James M. Gaudin, Jr., Ph.D., in Child Neglect: A Guide For Intervention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect


…if one has children of one’s own, caring deeply and effectively is a lifelong commitment. We must educate for this commitment. . . . the study of children should be an important topic in secondary education, and. . . practice in caring for and teaching younger children should begin in the upper elementary grades. Surely the care of children should be a central topic in the education of all students.

Nel Noddings, Ph.D., in The Challenge to Care in Schools


. . . society must early prepare for parenthood in its children; and it must take care of the unavoidable remnants of infantility in its adults.

Erik H. Erikson, M.D., Childhood and Society


"It has seemed to me that the final test of any civilization is, what type of husbands and wives and fathers and fathers and mothers does it turn out? Besides the austere simplicity of such a question, every other achievement of civilization---art, philosophy, literature, and material living---pales into insignificance."

Lin Yutang, Ph.D., The Importance of Living


Teaching elementary-school students how to be good parents may sound premature or even inappropriate. After all, children need large doses of parenting themselves. But the skills involved in good parenting -- shaping values, negotiating conflict, communicating, knowing right from wrong, responsibility, patience, and teamwork -- make for successful friends, students, siblings, colleagues, and spouses. A caring human being does not equal a good parent. But learning and practicing these life skills helps to create effective, productive, nurturing, and accountable human beings who will have the tools for good parenting.

Janet Ruth Falon in Life Skills 101 Preparing Children for Parenting: A Curriculum Approach, Creative Classroom Magazine, January/February 1996.


High schools and colleges could add seminars on "mothering" to their career-planning courses. Child study courses could be added to the curriculum and the science of imprinting could be stressed to the scientifically oriented. The concept that mothering is a mindless profession consisting of changing dirty diapers and wiping runny noses could be overcome by emphasizing the mind-to-mind relationship that is unique to the mother-infant attachment.

William Sears, M.D., pediatrician and author, in Creative Parenting.


I think that children's education, in general, should orient them towards having families as opposed to just having jobs. In our current system, we pretend that the only adult role of importance is the work role and never mention that marriage and children may be a major part of a man's future life.

David Popenoe, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University; author: Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensible for the Good of Children and Society, in Family Life Matters, Fall 1996.


. . . a few prominent family scholars could write new textbooks for high school students about marriage and parenthood. Almost all of the current textbooks on this subject are remarkably weak. . . and without a clue regarding the importance or even the meaning of the fatherhood idea. What do we wish to tell a fifteen-year-old boy about what a good society expects of fathers?

David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, in Fatherless America; Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem.


Family education to prepare youth for future family responsibilities can begin as early as elementary school up to senior high school. With teen pregnancy. . . in this country, beginning such pre-parenting courses in junior high school seems a good idea.

K.L. Kumpfer, Ph.D., Family Strengthening in Preventing Delinquency, U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1994).



Current evidence. . . indicates that prevention programs are likely to be most successful if they are concentrated in childhood as primary prevention . . . . Parenting practices appear to play crucial roles in the development of aggressive and violent behavior. . . . Parenting skills are not an innate instinct, but rather learned behavior based on individual parental experience and the personal process of trial and error in raising children. Although positively motivated, many parents do not know how to raise their children effectively.

Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH & David P. Farrington, Ph.D., authors of Prevention of Violence: Role of the Pediatrician (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 1995).


I strongly encourage other school districts and community-based organizations to implement (Parents Under Construction).* The benefits are both immediate and long-lasting on many levels.

Rod Paige, Ed.D., former U.S. Secretary of Education, 26 April 1999



(The Education and Labor Committee) urge(s) local education agencies to consider incorporating (Educating Children for Parenting)* as part of their comprehensive drug and violence prevention activities.

The Congressional Record - Senate, Senator Edward Kennedy, 7 October 1994.


* Parents Under Construction and Educating Children for Parenting® are model programs recommended by Prepare Tomorrow’s Parents.


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