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October 30, 2003

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Jeremy

Prenatal -- very smart. Parents tend to be more receptive to help/advice/tips when they're maybe a bit afraid and know they're somewhat clueless (first-timers, anyway). That's where you could start the relationship and awareness...clever.

robert paterson

I don't see your comments as being negative - I am struggling to find a way that's all. Currently the team and i are thinking of making our bet on prenatal.

As a soldier we knew we could not train for war in action. The essence of good military trainig is to create experiences close to what you find in action so that you can build up situaional awareness - you can get through the stress and how tired and frightened you are and "see" what is really going on.

We are working on what we might be able to deliver experientially in prenatal classes to at first motivated parents that goes way beyond the act of delivery to what you need to know for the first year. I will be posting our session notes as we go.

PS thanks for the nice pointer to my old site where I have years of work lurking. It's my sketch book for ideas.

Jeremy

Great questions, Rob. All of them deserve my usual lame attempt at more questions...because answers are so much harder.
: )

1. Is there a hook for parents to learn stuff?

I know there are lots of parenting books sold, but don't you think most of them are bought by the most-motivated minority of parents who are reflecting about these issues already? I wonder if it's preaching to the converted, since the people who would benefit most are the least likely to seek out the information (regardless of the chosen media).

2. What if this information was available in books, websites and locally in person - especially from other parents?

I wrote in my last response that I thought parents are often loathe to ask for help with something we all assume should be instinctual, even though it certainly doesn't feel like it when you're struggling.

Maybe I'm wrong, though. Things would have to get very, very bad before I'd go outside for parenting help/advice, particularly in my town, where there's a still a stigma about needing help of any kind. That said, I'm certainly enjoying the process of following your initiative, but it feels more like an area of study rather than a self-help project.

But these objections are too negative, I realize. As I wrote here this week, I admire your ability and willingness to see past the barriers and obstacles that confine my sense of opportunity. This is a worthwhile project, if only for the process at first.

robert paterson

Good points Jeremy. I think that government would be terrible at this.

It's not how I see things unfolding - if I can have any influence anyway. I would like to keep government out of this operationally and to work not to institutionalize the work. The researchers will have to fit in as best they can.

1. Is there a hook for parents to learn stuff? Well we all buy a lot of books about parenting. We all want our kids to do well. Would the knowledge that if you talked and responded a lot with your kids and that you held them a lot in the first year be a difficult lesson? Would the knowledge that if you did this, your kids would have a better chance of doing well in life be an incentive?

2. What if this information was available in books, websites and locally in person - especially from other parents?

3. What if you could choose to take the info or not entirely up to you? What if it worked like the Atkins diet? What then if word of mouth became powerful?

4. What if parents helped each other? What if like personal trainers, parent perosnal trainers emerged?

What do you think jeremy - how best can we use this knowledge to help us do better?

Jeremy

Rob, I've been out of the loop and missed this article. Fascinating stuff. It makes perfect sense that socioeconomic status shouldn't be considered to be the predictor of parenting success or risk.

Your parting question is full of potential and challenge. Right now I'm mostly seeing challenge. Please indulge me for a moment...

Even if you could get everyone in a region (let's use PEI as an example) to agree on some standard or measure of effective parenting, and then you could wave a magic wand (because that may be the only way to do it) to determine which parents didn't meet that standard, then what?

Parental training has always seemed like kind of a joke to me...not much better than teacher training, which is ridiculous in most cases. Even if the initiative came from parents (who are often loathe to ask for help with something we all assume should be instinctual, which it is clearly not), I would doubt the effectiveness of any training program within a reasonable provincial budget.

The alternative might be to assume that the government could do a better job at early-childhood education than most parents are doing. I've seen this idea floated recently, with administrators pushing to get mandatory schooling for kids as young as three. Given how badly the industrial education system works for the self-actualization of older children, I'd hate to see them wreck kids even younger.

Sorry about the negative tone, here. I realize that what you are talking about is potential. We all want to believe that everyone has the potential to succeed, but who's responsibility is it to try to make that happen...even if it were possible?

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