As the father of 2 girls now grown up, I can truthfully say that the role of parent is one of the most difficult and demanding that I have had to undertake. Neither Mrs Wiselmo nor I had any training for the job. Apart from advice and encouragement from parents and friends we ‘muddled through’ by our own efforts. By the grace of God our girls have grown up to be well adjusted, successful good citizens.
For the last twenty years the government has offered parents assistance and advice in their role through its ‘Positive Parenting’ programme.
‘Positive Parenting’ advises parents to focus only on positive aspects of their children's behaviour without criticising or punishing negative behaviour. This approach, which has been adopted as the official parenting guideline by the UK government, instructs parents to be constantly positive. According to the programme, children develop and continue to exhibit behavioural problems when there are poor parenting skills and insufficient positive reinforcement. The idea is that a child who receives enough positive reinforcement will not misbehave.
Recently however the 20 year old state sponsored policy that children should not be punished has been robustly challenged by LSE academic and barrister Helen Reece in her report ‘The Pitfalls Of Positive Parenting’.
In his article in the Mail Online Steve Doughty reports that:
“Her report, in the journal Ethics and Education, says that failing to reward or punish a child gives them no chance to make a choice between what is right and wrong.
‘Parents should be left to trust their own instincts,’ she said. ‘I am not saying what they should do, whether to punish or not to punish, or to smack or not to smack. I am saying they should be themselves.
‘We all have times when we are tired or grumpy and we don’t want to play, and sometimes we should be able to say I want to watch a film or talk to my friend.’
She added: ‘Positive parenting means the authorities can always find ways in which the parent’s own behaviour is lacking. And if any of us were observed for any length of time, we would be bound to transgress. The Government should not be putting parents under pressure by issuing parenting advice. Parents should trust their own intuition.
‘Positive parenting is arduous, if not impossible, and can be damaging because it sets parents up to fail.”
Other academics seem to agree with this view. As a former secondary depute head teacher who had to deal with a growing minority of pupils with behavioural problems, it is clear to me that some had only ever experienced poorly implemented positive parenting. As a result they were morally bankrupt.......incapable of making sound ethical decisions with behavioural patterns based on impulse not reason.
As a Christian I know that there is much better child rearing advice than any government can offer in the Bible. In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul said: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”, and in the Old Testament, the Book of Proverbs exhorts parents to: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”.
The Biblical advice worked for my children....they know the difference form right and wrong.
‘Positive Parenting’ leaflets/brochures should be immediately placed where they belong.........in the nearest dustbin!