This morning, I stumbled across the news that the parenting programme that Glasgow City Council had signed up for and invested in, Triple P, has apparently not worked too well, if one is to believe a research study conducted at Glasgow University.
The main issues are with retention rate, with just over half of parents completing the group programme. While those who did complete the group programme reported improvements in the behaviour of their children, the high drop out rate means that it didn't work for many and we don't know if there are patterns in relation to who drops out and for whom the programme isn't working.
A lot of effort has been put into this programme, including a lot of funding. Having almost completed the online version of it, I'm a bit surprised why this programme was chosen above others. It is a supernanny style programme, working with reward charts and time out, two approaches that at the very least are questionable and not universally accepted parenting styles. In fact, when I got to "time out" and a tantrumming just 2 year old was locked in a tiny space until she would have 2 consecutive minutes of being quiet, I got angry. 2 year olds need to learn about their emotions and work through it with a caring adult, and not be abandoned to their own devices. I'm not saying that removing a child from a situation is wrong, but leaving a 2 year old alone to work it out just defies common sense. On the reward chart bit - well personally I prefer my children to be able to make choices without the carrot of a star, and while I'm sure they work and are a great tool for many parents, they are not for me. A programme that tells me that's what I should be using, these are the tools and don't complain if you don't want to use them because that makes you a failing parent just doesn't sit well with my ideas of choice and accepting different parenting styles, or parent empowerment for that matter.
So while I know that the tools are used a lot and work a treat for many people, the assumption that this is the one and only parenting style, sits very uncomfortably with me. Somehow I have a feeling that this is why many people voted with their feet.
Another reason might be that throughout what I have seen of the programme, it creates an impression of parents not knowing what their doing and needing a parenting programme to be even decent parents. This is patronising, but also simply makes you feel bad. And feeling bad about your parenting doesn't do any good for your parenting skills.
I also know that its implementation wasn't uniform. Some schools were made to run it for P1 parents, others didn't (Making schools run a programme isn't a good idea either, by the way). I once phoned as I was interested and never heard back. In fact, it was impossible speaking to any human when enquiring about it. So I'm not sure how well promoted it was apart from the Stay Positive posters and leaflets that were omnipresent and still are.
Now if you've been following this blog, you may know that I work on a different parenting programme. It's called FAST (Families and Schools Together) and it uses a very different approach, focusing on opening up family communication channels, and positive interactions that are fun and for the whole family. It's about strengthening the parent and building informal support networks, and bringing families and schools together (excuse the pun). Retention rate: 80% on average (though we had over 90% at the last programme I was involved in). Everyone has fun, and both kids and parents want more rather than walk away from it. The more I do it, the more I learn about it, the more passionate I become about it, because it addresses in so many ways simple steps to happy kids and happy parents, and the patronising "this is how you should parent your child" is totally cut out.
So my tuppence worth of advice: Triple P is useful but not the be all and end all of parenting. It would be good to have alternative approaches such as FAST which work in such a very different way. There is space for mutual complementation, rather than the exclusiveness of one parenting programme fits all.
Oh yes, and if there's a school out there interested in seeing how good FAST can be, do get in touch.