Parenting and parenting support

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<ul><li><p>CHILDREN &amp; SOCIETY VOLUME 19 (2005) pp. 261263Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/CHI.895</p><p>Parenting and parenting support</p><p>Parenting children and young people, and the effectiveness ofsupport given to parents, is a topic increasingly examined insubmissions to the Journal. Research has been stimulated byUK policy initiatives, notably Supporting Families, 1998, EveryChild Matters, 2003 and Every Child Matters: Next Steps, 2004 aswell as major national programmes, notably SureStart.Prioritizing support for parents is also a matter of internationalpolicy concern, reflected in the provisions of the UN Conven-tion on the Rights of the Child, 1989, especially Articles 5 and 18.So we are pleased to devote a whole issue to this theme, withthree articles and a research review specifically on parentingsupport, plus two further articles offering additional perspec-tives relevant to the theme.</p><p>The evaluation of the UKs national telephone helplineParentline Plusis the focus of the first article, by JanetBoddy, Marjorie Smith and Antonia Simon. While ParentlinePlus aimed to offer a universally accessible source of supportwith parenting, teething troubles meant a very high percentagefailed to get through, although successful call rates didincrease markedly, to 15,434 during three months in 2002.Interestingly, three quarters of all calls were made by women,with a high percentage in what the authors categorised asatypical family situations. Problems raised were concentratedon child concerns (especially challenging behaviour, educa-tion, and child mental health issues) and adult concerns(especially parental conflict, divorce, custody, and adultmental health issues).</p><p>In the second article Julie Shepherd and Debbie Roker reporton the success of newsletters as a strategy for supportingparents of 1116 year olds. Four specially produced news-letters were distributed to the parents of 4,000 young peopleattending four schools in England and Wales. About half thetarget parents reported reading the newsletters, (interestingly</p><p>Copyright # 2005 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.</p><p>By Martin Woodhead,Allison Jamesand Nigel Thomas</p><p>Editorial</p></li><li><p>again, mainly mothers rather than fathers). Reactions to thenewsletters were generally positive, although impact onknowledge, attitudes and behaviour was not surprisinglyharder to demonstrate. This study also draws attention to theimportance of differentiating methods of parental supportaccording to the circumstances of families, recognising thatsome groups of parents may be much harder to reach thanothers.</p><p>One parent support strategy with proven effectiveness inpromoting positive parent-child relationships with very youngchildren involves direct intervention through parentingprogrammes. Martin Manby reports an evaluation of one ofthe best known methods, developed by Caroline Webster-Stratton in Seattle, but applied here in a project in the EnglishMidlands, and based on data for 29 parents who completed theprogramme. Intensive video led sessions covered the impor-tance of play and boundary setting, and taught praise andignore techniques based on positive reinforcement principles.The overall results are impressive, notably evidence of changesin parental behaviour and reports of lowered stress levels,although the absence of a control group is an acknowledgedlimitation of the study.</p><p>Suicide by a young person is a devastating experience for anyparent and evidence for increases in the rate of adolescentsuicide has become a grave cause for concern. Nicky Stanleybegan her study of 46 parents with the goal to increaseknowledge about the circumstances surrounding suicide, inorder that parents with at risk children could be guided aboutwarning signs. What she reveals is the diversity of parentalperspectives on the events leading up to the suicide, reinfor-cing evidence of the heterogeneity of circumstances in whichyoung people take their own lives. These parents also drewattention to the gaps in professional support that might havehelped their children, as well as themselves.</p><p>The paper by Allister Butler and Gaynor Astbury serves as areminder that strategies for supporting parenting must takeaccount of the contributions young people themselvesmake within families, especially where they are identifiedas young carers. They monitored the work of CornwallYoung Carers Project, tracking the success of the project inmoving from initial aims through to measured outcomes,and employing a Theory of Change approach to evaluation.They report the significance of the project in increasingawareness about young carers, specifically identifying 200new cases, as well as developing and implementing targetedservices.</p><p>262 Editorial</p><p>Copyright # 2005 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd. CHILDREN &amp; SOCIETY Vol. 19, 261263 (2005)</p></li><li><p>Finally, the Research Review draws together many of thethemes of this issue. Patricia Moran and Deborah Ghatesummarize their report on international evaluation evidenceon parent support, commissioned by the Department forEducation and Skills. They draw attention to patchiness ofcurrent knowledge and the need for systematic, preferablylongitudinal evaluations of a wide full range of programmes,in order to understand not only which strategies work best butalso why they are effective and where they fit withincomprehensive policies for parent support.</p><p>Announcement</p><p>We are pleased to announce that Dr Michael Wyness, SeniorLecturer, University College Northampton, is joining theeditorial team as Joint Book Reviews Editor.</p><p>Editorial 263</p><p>Copyright # 2005 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd. CHILDREN &amp; SOCIETY Vol. 19, 261263 (2005)</p></li></ul>


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