Mandatory parenting classes: Good idea?

I’ve heard some people here mention that mandatory parenting classes in high school might be a good way to reduce teenage pregnancy and help people be better parents when they do have children. Do you think so?

It seems logical that children who have a good sense of what raising a baby involves would be more likely to take proper steps to avoid getting pregnant before they’re ready to breed.

Should such classes be mandatory?

Should they just be offered as an elective?(My high school offered such a class, but I don’t know anything about it since I, not having any intention to reproduce, didn’t take it.)

I think that in high school it is appropriate to teach students life skills. Including, but not limited to parenting. I think household finance (try and pay bills on $20k a year!), realistic career research (I know so many people who knew nothing about the field they majored in when they chose it) and general “what is it really like to be an adult” should be part of the circulum - that includes kids.

I also know several people who had no intention of having kids in high school who are now parents - either on purpose or otherwise.

I’d be opposed to mandatory parenting classes, simply because I wouldn’t want a lot of student time and school money to be placed on a subject that affects less than ten percent of the teenage population anyway. Current sex ed classes already mention the topic to some extent. Obviously, it hasn’t stopped most teenagers from having sex before age 18. I doubt that there is any one class that would convince most teens to not have sex. Most of them just aren’t able to put the consequences of sexual activity in their proper perspective.

I don’t understand the part about it only affecting less than 10% of the teenagers. :confused:

It’s not just about reducing teenage pregnancy - parenting classes can also help children make more informed decisions about if and when to have children once they become adults, and to be better prepared for when they do.

I TOTALY agree with what DANGEROSA says. I wish that I had been taught about handling money----spending/credit/saving/investing etc. when I was in H.S… Being Catholic; the PRE-NUPTUAL classes that were MANDATORY before you could marry “in” the Church—pretty much handled the marriage/sex/raising children thing. They made sure that you married with your eyes WIDE OPEN. I don’t know what the stats were/are, but it sure saved a lot of couples a lot of heartache later.

I agree with Dangerosa. I find it highly puzzling that we insist on mandatory school attendence, and then fail to see to it that the schools teach the things that young people really need to know (and that society really needs people to know).

Parenting skills, basic practical psychology, personal finance, job seeking skills, job keeping skills – Most kids will need this knowledge. And we will all benefit it more people possess this knowledge.

I think ITR may be saying that few kids would be influenced by parenting classes to postpone sex, or to otherwise try harder to avoid pregnancy. I agree that such classes would not have this effect. But I think they would be worthwile anyway; it’s knowledge most kids will eventually need.

I was refering to the fact that less than ten percent of teenage girls become pregnant before age eighteen. Older parents, of course, could also benefit from classes that they took in high school, but I think that responsible parents need to learn parenting skills on their own, and that teens who are planning to delay pregnancy until adulthood probably wouldn’t pay much attention in a high school class.

Most of us pick up our parenting skills from, surprise, our own parents. They’ve got about 18 years of showing us how a family works and giving us examples of how to raise a kid. One semester of parenting class is not going to change 18 years worth of parental example. That’s probably one of the reasons why children who are abused supposedly have a high rate of abusing their own kids.

Of course I don’t think a parenting class is going to hurt anybody. If someone wants to offer it as an elective in high school I wouldn’t mind. I wouldn’t make it mandatory though.



High School did next to nothing when it came to preparing me for life. All it did was prepare me for college. There’s an awful lot of people who don’t go on to college so what about those kids? At my school it seemed like all the administrators cared about was what percentage of the graduating class was going on to higher education. It didn’t seem to me like there was any other option, unless I wanted to enlist.

In my senior year in Texas I took Independent Living as a blow off course. The course covered cooking on a budget, finances, how to find an apartment, how to make a resume, and many other useful things. I think the course we be a better idea for seniors then a parenting class.

Things like practical psychology and job keeping skills are things that one teaches over the course of the 12 years of school. Things like getting to school on time, doing one’s assignments correctly, homework, and getting along with peers and authorites are all things that translate into useful things to take beyond school. You can’t teach those things in a single semester or year.

Oh yeah, one more important thing. Schools need to make sure students can think for themselves. It isn’t enough that they can fill in the right answer with a #2 pencil.


PS: My apologies for the hijack.

I think that the independent living couse, with parenting mixed in is what everyong should have to take in high school. So many people get ut of school not knowing how to write a check or balance the checkbook. They don’t know how to cook a few simple meals, do laundry, or sew on a button. I wish I had been taught a few simple plumbing jobs or how to fix a bad light fixture. School really does send you out into the world unprepared, and sometimes your parents also don’t know how some things work, or sad to say don’t care if you don’t know. {At least mine tried to give me a good education in and out of school). I know I’m also hijacking the thread, But I really don’t like the fact that high schools now seem to care more about test scores and less about the child as a whole.

[hijack] Please, please, please don’t use the word “parent” as a verb. Please?

Well, if the classes were a little more general (as in, covering things like child development and family dynamics instead of specific skills like diapering and bathing), I think it would be valuable and possibly influential (that is, result in better-informed child-rearing in the future). I still remember some of what I learned in high school, and I suspect some of this sort of thing would have been helpful even though I didn’t become a parent until 14 years after graduating.

Even though some of those teenagers will never become parents, I’d wager all of them will have some interaction at some point with kids. Whether they are someone’s aunt or just having to put up with a noisy child in the grocery store line, it wouldn’t hurt if they had a little better knowledge of how a child becomes an adult person.

I’d support things like this being included in a high school curriculum.

Life Skills (or what its like to be an adult):


Unit One: Research what you want to be when you grow up. Include a risk assessment of achieving this goal (to keep all the pro-basketball players on the ground). One requirement is to interview someone currently doing this job, including what the average day is like, and what they like and dislike about their job. Included: Mean starting salary, mean salary, unemployment figures within profession, employment outlook for profession, education requirements, etc.

Unit Two (the financial part): You are now just out of college (tech school, or, for careers not requiring additional education, high school) for your profession. You are single. Taking the mean starting salary for your profession, find an apartment, a car, create a budget. Develop a “pretend financial life” for yourself.

This will include some basics like “balancing a checkbook” and “figuring credit card interest” and “starting a retirement account.”

Teacher will throw some scenarios at you. For instances, layoffs are coming, write an essay about how you are going to support yourself while out of work for three months. There will be “chance” cards given to each student which will represent “fate.” These will be both good and bad.

Unit Three (the relationship part). You are now five years into your career. By this time, many of you will have found someone to spend the rest of your life with. Unit discusses what makes a good relationship and how to make a commitment work. Rework the finances developed in unit 2 for your increased earning power and two people.

More scenarios and chance cards.

Unit Four (the kids part): 10 years into your career. Your spouse (or spousal substitute) and you have decided to have kids (or maybe haven’t decided, but end up with them anyway. No possible? Well, then your sister dies and leaves you her kids). Rework the finances for increased earning power, but now with two kids. Are you a one income family, a daycare family, or do you work childcare in some other manner? Discuss good child rearing, discipline, child development, and the commitment it takes to raise children.

More scenarios and chance cards.

By this time, you have completely exhausted the ability of a seventeen year old to look ahead.

(Weird Al, parent is a very important verb in the social work and adoption circles. Sorry you don’t like it. Since I travel in the adoption circles, parent means something very important and specific. And the verb tense is an approved (i.e. in the dictionary) usage.)

The problem I see is what exactly would be taught?

Sure you teach how to change a diaper and how to make a bottle and how to give a squirming toddler a bath but…

It would be very easy to move into gray areas like ‘Don’t let your kids watch violent stuff on tv’ and then you could have problems.

Actually, the give a bottle stuff is the unimportant stuff (and the stuff you get when you are expecting). Besides, I don’t think its relative to teach “latching on” or potty training to high school students, they have enough titters over health. Its the committment to being a parent stuff that is important. The realities – A newborn may wake up every 2 hours 24 hours a day for about two months to be fed. A child will be your responsiblity for EIGHTEEN years. Disposable diapers will set you back $100 a month. Kids respond to love and attention - and giving them such is a resource committment in terms of both emotion and time. They become a very high priority (although, I don’t believe the highest priority, I think you put your own oxygen mask on first). You can’t leave a six year old home alone while you go to a movie. You can’t work late without thinking about who can pick up your kids from day care or releave your spouse. You cannot disipline a six month old - they don’t have the conceptual skills for it.) Enroll your kid in soccer or Little League and you’ll be spending hours in a car. No matter how well you raise your kids, chances are one day your teenager will look at you and say “you aren’t the boss of me, I’m going to do it anyway.” None of these are grey areas. And yet, so many of them have come as a surprise to many parents (including myself).

(And its pretty well established that you shouldn’t let your kids watch violent stuff on TV.)

Teaching child development is certainly a good idea. But I usually hear the idea of parenting classes from someone when they see people raising a child in a way they disapprove. Like someone taking little kids into see Hanibal or smacking thier kids in grocery store or letting their kids run rampant through the store and the parents are (in their opinion) too soft. Plus I’m 36 and my mom still feels responsible for me. Parent status is forever.

I watched plenty of violent stuff on TV and IMHO I turned out pretty ok.

There are plenty of gray areas in parenting.

Another problem with this whole ‘add this to the HS curriclum’ is what are you going to drop? There are only so many hours in the school day and if you are going to add all these ‘life courses’ what do you drop? History? Science? Language?

Well, since I got all my credits in by the time my junior year was over, I think we could squeeze in another class. At least here in my state.

Lets see, for electives…I took steno, and woodworking. Architectural drafting. Mythology. Bookkeeping. Sewing, Cooking and Music. Typing and Computer Science. Drivers Ed. A completely useless non-elective health class that could be reworked to address these topics as well as health. Got sex ed 3 times. Got “what is a noun” every year from about second grade in English non elective class. An elective phys ed. Still had time for elective study hall.

Some of these have been more valuable than others.

Sounds lovely, but I’ll echo the where? comment.

I had space for two electives. Yearbook or Model UN and Chior. I signed myself out of health. I did swim team instead of gym. I did everything I could to keep myself in the classes I loved. However useful an Independant Living class would be, I would not have taken it. I would have gotten a teacher to sign me out as an independant study and taken it as a homework class. Or not graduated. (I very nearly didn’t due to some requirement that I decided I didn’t need. My counselor was familiar with my stubbornness and decided it would be better for the school to have me an an alumni than not.)

Its a great idea.

I wouldn’t have done it at all.