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.
Cosby, Ph.D., Acceptance Message, National Parents' Day
Coalition Awards Ceremony, July 1994
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
W. Nelson, Executive Director, Annie E. Casey
Foundation, Time Magazine, 3 June 1996
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.
Congressional Record – House, Congressman
Bob Filner, 24 May 2005.
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.
Miedzian, Ph.D., social philosopher, professor
and author: Boys Will Be Boys; Breaking the Link Between Masculinity
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
Corporation of New York, Starting Points: Meeting
the Needs of Our Youngest Children, April 1994.
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
Bronfenbrenner, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Human
Development, Cornell University, The Ecology of Human Development.
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)
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.
Zigler, Ph.D.,Sterling Professor of Psychology,
Yale University Director, Bush Center in Child Development and Social
Policy, Exploring Childhood Program Overview.
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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.
I. Greenspan, MD
on Public Education and Human Development Literacy:
organized, federally led educational effort mandating education
in human growth and development is needed in grade schools, middle
schools, high schools and colleges. . . .
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.
Berry Brazelton, MD, and Stanley I. Greenspan, MD
The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have
to Grow, Learn, and Flourish (2000)
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.
Honorable Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Chief Justice of Guam, The
1999 State of the Judiciary Address; A Report to the People of Guam
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.
Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical
School; author: Raising Black Children, quoted in Parenting Magazine,
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.
W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education, conference
remarks, September 1998.
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?
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.
Eisler, Ph.D., from Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint
for Partnership Education in the 21st Century.
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
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
the latest findings on brain development, I'd . . . .make parent
training a mandatory part of the high school curriculum, for boys
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
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?"
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.
Oprah Winfrey Show, 11 September 2000.
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
CFLE, Parent and Family Life Educator, still
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
CFCS, CFLE, Vice President, American Association of Family and Consumer
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.
to Three National Center for Clinical Infant Programs, Heart
Start; The Emotional Foundations of School Readiness.
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
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
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
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
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
H. Erikson, M.D.,
Childhood and Society
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."
Yutang, Ph.D., The Importance of Living
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.
Ruth Falon in Life Skills 101 Preparing Children for
Parenting: A Curriculum Approach, Creative Classroom Magazine,
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.
Sears, M.D., pediatrician and author, in Creative Parenting.
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.
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?
Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for
American Values, in Fatherless America; Confronting Our Most
Urgent Social Problem.
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.
Family Strengthening in Preventing Delinquency, U.S. Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1994).
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.
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).
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.
former U.S. Secretary of Education, 26 April 1999
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.
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
to What Experts & Others Say Index