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Start doing more to support parents

7 February 2007

Start doing more to support parents

The Families Commission is calling on all New Zealanders to do more to show they support and value parents.

Launching a new project to celebrate and support the role of parenting, Chief Commissioner Rajen Prasad says “Parenting is the most important job most of us will ever do, but the only time the nation focuses on parenting seems to be when something goes wrong within a family.

“Most parents do a good job raising their children but there are times when they could do with some extra support. There is an extensive network of community services and agencies providing advice and information. However, parents tell us they often don’t know about these services or how to access what they’re looking for. There is also still a perception that parenting should come naturally and that if we need support then it is a sign of failure,” he said.

“We need to turn this around. The more parents know about child development and appropriate methods of child rearing through the different ages and stages of a child’s life the stronger and more successful the family will be.”

The Commission is working with a range of community agencies to promote to parents the importance of building on their skills throughout their parenting years. As part of this the Commission is launching a new website in response to parents who say it can be difficult finding the right advice and support when they need it. The website (www.nzfamilies.org.nz/parenting ) provides some practical hints and tips and is a jumping off point to organisations able to provide expertise in everything from potty training through to helping teenagers make the transition to adulthood. The site will be regularly updated and expanded.

The Commission is also concerned that in its research and discussion with parents they say they do not feel their role is highly valued within society. This was backed up by recent polls by the Commission which showed that while almost everyone rated the role of parents as very important more than two thirds felt their employers, government and society placed less importance on the role.

“As New Zealanders we need to make the most of opportunities to be supportive of parents and show that we value them,” Said Dr Prasad.

One thread of the Commission’s work focuses on further improving supportive work environments through extensions to flexible work arrangements and paid parental leave, and to improving out of school child care services.

“Service industries can also do more to support parents––café’s that turn away mothers with babies, and bus drivers that take off while people are still struggling to seat young children are subtly showing they do not value parenting,” he said.

“As communities, friends, family, whānau, and neighbours, we can all take advantage of opportunities to lend a helping hand when needed and show our support for parents,” he said.

The Families Commission project includes:

- Advocacy for easy access to support and information that will help parents to broaden their parenting skills as part of normal parenting practice. The government’s SKIP (Strategies for Kids Information for Parents) programme is already well known and we believe it could easily be extended to reach the parents of older children. We support Plunket’s call for more investment in efforts to ensure children under five have the best start in life and initiatives such as the Healthy B4 School checks

- Promotion of widespread use of family friendly workplace policies and flexible work practices. Our recommendations include the introduction of a year’s paid parental leave, plus one month’s paid leave for new fathers. We are also supporting improvements to out of school childcare services

- Raising public awareness of the importance of parenting- that it IS the best day’s work you’ll ever do.

- Providing sound evidence on which to base future assistance for parents, including the views of parents themselves. We are currently focusing on research into variety of specific parenting-related issues such as separation, relationships and fathering.


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