Parenting skills classes: transforming the next generation

Parenting is a key factor in determining a child’s life chances; positive parenting skills can engender enduring positive values such as empathy, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice. These character strengths support children into their futures, helping them make the right choices when faced with moral dilemmas. Parents from all walks of life want this for their children, but are not always sure they can deliver it as they can lack confidence in their childrearing skills. This should come as no surprise. Our culture—increasingly materialist and self-centred—is not conducive to parenting, with its emphasis on nurturing and self-sacrifice. Extended families and tight-knit neighbourhoods, which traditionally used to support parenting, have become rare.

This preliminary report is based on qualitative research—field studies and a survey (carried out by Bheard for the Legatum Institute in March 2017)—that provides strong support for universal parenting skills courses as a cost-effective resource for parents from all backgrounds. Our findings showed that although the majority of parenting classes were not explicitly teaching character and values, the parenting skills groups prompted parents to reflect on their values, while the small group dynamic present in all the classes we visited served to challenge poor values and confirmed positive values.

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