Parenting classes: What I’d like them to teach me…

brothers smiling
Minutes before a fraternal squabble broke out

small boy with two ice creams.
This is how the ice cream wars started

David Cameron wants to introduce parenting classes for everyone in England with a child under the age of 5.

“Nanny state gone mad,” everyone cries. What does the prime minister know about bringing up kids anyway?

But then I’ve thought about it and maybe it isn’t such a bad idea after all. (Even though I live in Scotland where it wouldn’t apply.)

Obviously we all possess that mythical thing called maternal instinct. But, having been a mother for quite a long time now, I’d have to conclude that while it is the instinct to care and protect it doesn’t actually include any instinctive wisdom about how to achieve this.

Don’t take my word for it though. Look at the sales of advice tomes by ranks of experts. Gina Ford with her routines, Annabel Karmel with her meals in the shape of pirate ships, Super Jo Frost with no kids of her own, baby-led weaning with custard on the walls, baby whisperers and tiger mothers, Spock, Stoppard and even Myleene Klass. Add that to other celebrity role models who look slender, clean and in control and it’s no wonder we don’t know whether we’re coming or going.

We’re supposed to have it all, make ends meet, be patient and nurturing as well as make sure we take enough me time during which we plan our sex lives. Ha.

Perhaps then a class, someone to advise us on what to do when real life doesn’t fit the scenario in the books might help. I nearly came unstuck when it became apparent Boy Three hadn’t bothered to read his Gina Ford homework. Likewise no one told me that baby signing was never going to work in an as-yet-undiagnosed Aspie.

Often, deep down, we do know what we should be doing, it’s just difficult in the face of everyday pressures to remember. No where, after all, does Supernanny have a section that says: What to do if you’ve got an urgent deadline and you need your squabbing kids to shut the fek up for 20 minutes? So revisiting the basics is never a bad idea.

And if a class started with everyone chanting ‘I am good enough’, ‘my parenting is nothing to feel guilty about’, ‘my child will be fine’, then at least we haven’t got another stick to beat the mothers with.

Used right, someone available to parents could be a force for good, however, people being people, the danger of it not being used right is running scarily high.

However, if it comes my way, specifically I’d like to know:

  • How to potty train a nearly three-year-old who knows what he’s supposed to do, but chooses not to?
  • How to split up squabbling siblings and dispense punishment fairly?
  • Can I forgive myself for being snappy (ok, irrational) through PMT?
  • How to get them to pick stuff up, practice musical instruments and do chores without resorting to howling at them like a mad woman?
  • How much screen time is really too much?

What would you like to learn at parenting classes?

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