Diaries Magazine

What Would Make This Country the Best in the World to Bring up Children?

Posted on the 01 October 2012 by Ellenarnison @Ellen27

Glasgow Riverside museum

Glasgow's Riverside museum - fabulous and free

We all want the very best upbringing for our children. Of course we do.
It goes without saying that along with the stretchmarks and eye bags we get a built in urge to try our hardest to make this happen.
Often this journey is one of impossible riddles and contradictions, but that’s another story.

As parents we want our government to help us do the best for our kids. In the most part that is seeing what’s on offer – care, help, education – and trying to get the right portion of what’s right for our children. Often this can feel a bit adversarial as we struggle to find and get what we feel we should have. 

How would it be if the government started listening - really caring about what we parents want from them to make our job easier? 

The Scottish Government is launching its National ParentingStrategy on Wednesday and they are all ears. 

So here are my thoughts:

Childcare – more of it and cheaper. For those of us who want – and need – to work childcare is a very expensive cost to be covered before we even get to the supermarket checkout. Not only would this help all parents, it would put more women in the workplace making Scotland a more egalitarian place.

Flexible working – there is some opportunity in law already but how about ramping it up? Make the opportunity to work flexibly a right and create incentives for employers to come up with innovative solutions. And in any case, what’s the big deal about working 9 to 5 in an office? 

Parenting classes – There was a bit of a fuss when Cameron considered launching these in England, but there are some merits. Some health boards offer the Triple P system of classes and support  While no one likes to be taught to suck eggs, we could all do with a manual and some good advice.

Financial help – Children are expensive. How about some means of helping make the money go a bit further. What about expanding and supporting second hand sales such as the Jack and Jill Market network. No child ever suffered for being in a second-hand pram.

Further financial help – I’m a huge fan of the many free museums and galleries in Scotland’s major cities. These are a brilliant resource for our children. But how about taking it further and introduce some scheme of discounts or vouchers to allow trips to the likes of science centres, country parks, zoos and other entertaining and educational destinations. They are great fun for children, provide a bonding experience for families and everyone might learn something.

PND support – Currently mothers are assessed for post natal depression twice after having a child by their health visitor using a questionnaire. “Failing” the test means referral to a GP who will then proscribe treatment such as antidepressants and/or talking therapy. What if we tightened the mesh on this safety net and allowed for more comfortable self-referral? How about we keep a closer eye on those at risk – maybe offering them an appointment as a matter of routine? Support groups for mums and dads who struggle –whether or not there’s a diagnosis.

Help for lone parents – I only have one Sunday a fortnight on my own with my kids, but it’s hard enough. My hat is well and truly off to those who – for whatever reason- do it all the time. Surely there must be a way of allowing all the people on their own to support each other – regular events, tickets or vouchers for things, Facebook groups. And I’m including the dads who see their kids at the weekend too.

One stop shop for help – There is a lot of help ‘out there’ already – excellent groups and initiatives to help. However, it’s hard to know where to go for help and advice. I often find myself asking if something is a school matter or education or council. Can we establish something - possibly on the lines of NHS24 – where people can go to find out where to turn? It can’t be that hard.

The Scottish Government is listening – what do you think would make this the best country to bring up children in? 

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