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How parents are getting it all wrongVideo

Candice Meisels with daughters Chloe, 6, Hannah, 4, and Abby, 21 months. Photo: Kirk GilmourCandice Meisels does not just want to make her three daughters happy. To her that would mean unlimited lollies and iPad time, “whatever their heart desires”.
Nanjing Night Net

Instead she wants to help them become good people. “My goal is to raise kind, compassionate children who have respect for every race and religion, who don’t discriminate,” Ms Meisels said. “It would be great if they’re happy, but I can’t imagine indulging my children to make them so.”

Yet according to a new report, most Australians think parenting is all about raising happy kids, which comes naturally to happy, “normal” people. Parenting experts warn this is an unproductive view, and parents should instead focus on cultivating their child’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical capabilities.

“Happiness is a worthy goal,” Parenting Research Centre director Annette Michaux said. “But the danger is that it tends to flatten out all the other aspects of parenting that are very important.”

The Perceptions of Parenting report from the Parenting Research Centre has exposed the significant disconnect between the public’s view of parenting, and that of the experts. It interviewed parenting experts and members of the public to understand generally held assumptions about parenting, and how this differs from what the actual research says.

The general community believes parenting comes naturally to “good” people, whereas experts counter that parenting is a skill which is learnt on the job.

“There is a very strong public perception that if you are a good moral person you will instinctively and automatically know how to be a parent,” Ms Michaux said. “This is really the opposite of what we know as experts.”

She said parents who struggle with raising their children can feel quite blamed that it doesn’t come naturally to them, and stigmatised if they need outside help.

“In the daily world of parenting you are constantly adapting, learning what you need to do, the differences in individual children. Most parents need some kind of help and support along the way.”

People believed that if you had bad parents, there was a greater likelihood you would be a bad parent yourself. “It’s almost hereditary isn’t it,” one survey participant said. “If you had a bad childhood experience, your parents were shitty to you, then I would assume that’s likely to be carried on.”

People think that parenting today is harder, and of worse quality, than it was in the past, according to the PRC report. Those surveyed said modern parenting was complicated by the influence of the internet and social media, competition among parents, the tendency to coddle children, and the breakdown in community supports.

Ms Meisels agreed there was a lot of pressure being a parent. “In the past parenting was a lot more relaxed, there weren’t so many guidelines or pressures. Today it causes anxiety in parents, makes them more helicopterish.”

Ms Meisels said social media in particular intensified the pressure, as people made judgmental comments online which they would never say to a parent’s face.

The Parenting Research Centre will use the findings to communicate productive and helpful parenting messages, and avoid unconsciously reinforcing negative assumptions people make about parenting.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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