Family and Parenting Institute: the possibilities and limits of parenting
The Possibilities and Limitsof ParentingKatherine RakeAdfam Annual Conference 15 March 2012
There may be some doubt as to who arethe best people to have charge ofchildren, but there can be no doubt thatparents are the worst.’
Was it:b)Confuciusd)David Cameronf)George Bernard Shaw
Families in Britain13.8m Families in England6.01m Families in England with dependent children117,000 Estimated number of families with multiple problems10-30% Estimated change (leavers and new entrants) on this group each year5.89m Approximate number of families with dependent children not considered to have multiple problems8,841 Total number of families who worked with a family intervention service between January 2006 to March 2011£220,000 Estimated minimum cost to state of families with multiple problems£14,000 Estimated cost of family intervention project per family£50,000 Estimated saving per family per year of family intervention projects
Parenting makes a difference• What we know: – Parenting style matters – and it may turn out to matter even more than we expect – Poor parenting runs across social class – All parents struggle at some point – Those that have been poorly parented themselves face particular challenges (but we need to be careful with concepts of intergenerational transmission) – Specific needs flow from specific vulnerabilities (for example, learning difficulties, SEN, drug and alcohol misuse etc) – Good parenting can be done by different family members and outside the family
….and parents are recognising the needto invest more• The media rhetoric of a generation of neglectful parents is not reflected in the evidence : Mums and dads are spending more time with their children: •Working mothers now spend more time with their children than non-working mothers did in 1981 •Parents report spending three times longer per day with their children than 30 years ago And expectations of children’s behaviour have increased : •In 2006, 87% of parents expected their children to be polite (75% in ‘86) and 95% expect their children to do their homework (90% in ‘86)
We parent in context• We parent in context – and that context is not family friendly. Our recent poll showed only 6% believe the UK to be very family friendly• PM committed to making UK the most family friendly in Europe.• But, the deep deficit reduction plan is affecting families with children disproportionately - tax and benefits; changing service delivery• Financial squeeze layers pressure on relationships - both between couples and between parents and children
We parent under pressureParenting pressures are increasing:•Financial pressures combined with time pressures result result instresses on family life e.g. 11% of those in employment work atnight; 25% in the evenings•We increasingly parent alone – without the support of a widercommunity and as single parents•The debate around parenting creates its own risk – anxiety,demonization and a deficit based rather a strengths basednarrative about modern parenting
Policy aimed at boosting parentingcapacity-Parenting classes – about to be piloted in 4 areas across thecountry-Improving information and support provision-Some Sure Start interventions and other early interventions-Some of the troubled families agendaBut:-How will this be made universal?-How will it meet diverse and sometimes complex needs?-Will it make a difference?!
Will it make a difference? “It is clearly easier to adopt the behaviours associated with‘good’ parenting if the pressure to provide the basics are reduced.Not all well off people make good parents, and not all poor peopleare bad parents; it is just significantly more difficult to be goodparent with a minimum level of resources” Naomi Eisenstadt, former Director of Sure Start “Wider economic factors impact on the stresses andstrains parents experience and ultimately the level of conflict in thehome. Household income does, therefore, make a difference indetermining whether or not pressures are reduced or parentingcapabilities are enhanced” Enver Solomon, The Children’s Society
Policy aimed at reducing parentingpressures-New Social Justice strategy?-Further Early Intervention measures?-Some Sure Start interventions-Some of the troubled families agendaBut:-How will this be made affordable?-How will it add up locally and nationally to ensure efficiency?-Will it make a difference?!
Sustainable and effective parenting policy• Works both to increase parenting capacity and reduce parenting pressures• Makes the case regarding impact, outcomes and results• Takes advantage of the new business models: social enterprise & social finance• Develops new partnerships? Collaboration, mergers, new (bits of) DepartmentsAnd ultimately recognises that supporting families and parents is not a luxury item; it’s central to a healthy society (and economy)