Increasingly, policies are being put in place by governments to identify and provide services to parents who are seen as needing additional support in fulfilling their parenting roles. Such policies can be justified on the basis of young children’s rights as well as the accumulating evidence that many problems of development, behaviour and mental health in older children and adolescents can be tracked back to early childhood and specifically to parenting.
Programmes for earliest childhood often have a specific focus on helping parents
to achieve secure attachments with their children, since the evidence is strong that attachment insecurity in early childhood is linked to poorer developmental outcomes and behaviour problems in later childhood and adolescence. Other programmes
are designed to promote positive parenting and responsive support for children’s learning. While some programmes employ particular methods to achieve specific goals, many others have broader aims, such as improving nutrition, health and education, recognising that parenting is dependent on its context, which may not always give adequate support.
Whether the programmes are effective and appropriate is a matter that needs to be taken seriously by policy makers and advocates for children’s rights. There are also fundamental questions to be asked about whether the assumptions about ‘good’ parenting that underlie the various intervention models used around the world are sufficiently informed by the great variety of ways in which children are helped by their parents to live good lives. This publication examines the case for parenting interventions, addresses the diversity of supportive parenting internationally, and encourages policy makers, advocates and practitioners to critically evaluate policies that aim to affect the ways in which parents enact their parenting roles.