Why Everyone Can Benefit from Parenting Education

Parenting is a skill and, like most skills, must be learned. Loving may be instinctual, but skills are developed. From birth through adulthood, parents can continue to learn skills and gain insights that improve relationships, optimize each other’s growth and development, and create family well being during its various transitions.

Important things to know…

  • . . . the quality of children’s’ relationships with their parents has lifelong effects. Parent-child relationships serve as the foundation for children’s lifelong health and well-being.
  • . . . from birth onward, communication with adult caregivers builds the architecture of children’s brains. (Stevens, 2017) Neuroscientists at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child explain that early adult-child interactions  “determine whether a child’s developing brain architecture provides a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.” (Stevens, 2017)
  • . . . safe, stable and nurturing relationships are essential to children’s healthy development. (Knudsen et al., 2006) Extraordinary development occurs from birth to age 5, forming the bedrock for lifelong health, intellectual ability, emotional well-being, and social functioning. For health and wellbeing throughout life, positive experiences in early childhood are critical. What really matters for children’s development is the quality of every environment whether home, school, or childcare.
  • . . . positive parenting promotes the health and success of future generations. (Shonkoff & Gardner, 2012) Increasing evidence indicates that numerous adult health problems, including many chronic diseases that lead to premature death, are rooted in exposure to both the social and systemic factors (e.g., parental stress and lack of support) that contribute to adverse experiences and abuse (Shonkoff, Boyce, & McEwen, 2009), as well as to childhood adversity itself (Shonkoff, Boyce, & McEwen, 2009).

Evidence-based (meaning extensively evaluated and researched), parenting and family education programs for families with school-age children (including adolescents) increases Protective Factors — things that help children and families, such as enhanced resilience and knowledge of parenting and child development. It also reduces Risk Factors — things that divert children from reaching their potential.

Parenting and family skills are still required when children are adults so that family well being, traditions, and support are maintained. Some families seek out family education resources when parents need care and support from their adult children.

Family transitions are plentiful and can create stress and pose challenges that require insight, skills and support. Things like the new birth or adoption/fostering of children in the family, moving households, job changes, divorce or separation, illness or death of loved ones, grandparent or other family members needs, and environmental and societal changes can challenge a family’s wellbeing. Parenting and family education support people’s efforts to be the best versions’ of themselves

SO…why do we ALL need parent education?

Parenting Education positively influences the following:

  • The health, safety, wellbeing, and economic success of children through adulthood [as well as of their parents]
  • Improves childhood and student outcomes
  • Reduces at-risk behaviors
  • Promotes students’ academic growth
  • Improves the environment of the family, supporting an optimal setting for family well-being.

Parenting programs have demonstrated to improve social-emotional development in children (Weisleder et al., 2016; Zimmer-Gemback et al., 2015) and the use of positive parenting practices improves parent confidence (Chen & Chan, 2015).

Parenting education has been identified as an effective intervention for addressing multiple social problems like child abuse, [substance abuse], juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and academic disengagement (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006).

Parenting education and family support programming have been identified as key strategies to prevent and reduce instances of toxic stress, abuse, and adverse experiences (Garner et al., 2012).

And, finally, in a 15-year study  by the National Institute of Drug Abuse of evidence-based parenting education (meaning extensively evaluated and researched programs), it was documented that there is enormous economic benefit to society. They reported a conservative estimate of return on investment of $9.60 for every dollar spent on prevention with a net benefit of $5,923 per family (Spoth & Greenberg, 2005).

In short, parenting education helps you and our society by promoting family well being.