PARENTING + OPINION POST + RESEARCH
Since exiting the corporate world, I’ve dedicated my time to researching and studying current parenting styles, gaps, needs and wants. I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours researching child development, neuroscience, parenting and the difference between generations. I’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of Mums with 3-7year olds, and I’ve discovered something that concerns me.
Having experienced the care and career juggle, I believe resources and funding to support parents in the developmental years are lacking and there is no focus on improvement in this year’s Federal Budget (2021-22).
There are four things that raise alarm bells for me when it comes to answering the question ‘Are today’s parents equipped to raise future communities?’. Recent research and government initiatives indicate:
- A steady rise in mental health issues and suicides in Australia.
- Parents admitting a lack of confidence, knowledge and skills in regards to raising children.
- The high cost of child care causing stress to working families.
- Unrealistic expectations that we can do more with less support.
It’s a simple albeit not an easy issue to resolve. Complicated by several intersecting challenges, so let’s break it down. The two biggest issues I see are:
- The Rise In Mental Health Issues & Suicides
Firstly, the rise in mental health issues and suicides is a growing concern. The recent Federal Budget released on 11 May 2021 clearly indicates this is an escalating national issue in Australia. The total investment in mental health and suicide prevention in 2021‑22 in the Health portfolio alone is $6.3 billion. Source: Australian Federal Budget 2021-22.
Although it’s encouraging to see support for mental illness, it’s a sad state of affairs which is perhaps a reflection of past parenting and social support. In order to deal with the core problem, the majority of funds could be invested in identifying and preventing the root causes, thereby mitigating the need for such substantial investment in treatments over time.
2. Lack of confidence, knowledge and skills
A small research study recently conducted by Ms Simpson with parents, showed more than 80% of respondents agreed they parent on autopilot. That is, they rely on their friends or family and their upbringing to determine how to raise their children, which is what their parents did, and so on back through the generations. There are some positive aspects to this, and there are some areas for improvement.
Many parents openly admit a lack of confidence, knowledge and skills with regards to raising children. If past parenting and social policies have created todays’ societal challenges, should we not be putting some attention and resources into educating parents on how to raise happy little humans in our rapidly changing modern world?
In order to develop socially and emotionally healthy future communities and reduce escalating mental health issues, we need to provide our children with emotional and social skills and tools as a core part of their early education.
In my opinion, emotional and social wellbeing is as important as learning to read and write, yet we mostly leave the teaching of these foundational skills to parents who are often well-intentioned yet ill-equipped to do so.Robyn Simpson, Founder of Choose the ‘Tude, researcher, author and advocate for future communities
So what can be done to improve this social dilemma?
I believe part of the answer lies within educating parents on how to raise emotionally and socially healthy children during the developmental years. In doing so, we too will learn how to care for our emotional and mental health, which is something that was most likely missing in our upbringing and education.
As a parent, I would appreciate the education on how to be the best parent I can be, especially in the early years of my children’s development. Yet the budget and other government initiatives appear to be missing that aspect, or there is a lack of awareness among parents of where to find practical information that fits with today’s busy lifestyles.
“Decades of work in family law has shown me that the ability of both adults and children to regulate their emotions and to think carefully before they respond to difficult situations is crucial for maintaining happy relationships. This training will help everyone.”Pamela Sweetapple, lawyer, mediator, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner
Two new things:
- Launch a new initiative called the Future Communities Project.
- Conduct research to better understand parents perspective.
- The research focuses on working parents with children aged between 3-7 years of age. It looks at:
- How parents feel about parenting
- What they wish they knew earlier
- What they feel is important for future generations and
- What their concerns are
- Social and emotional wellbeing
- Where parents are getting their support and parenting knowledge from and where there may be gaps.