Leading up to Canada Day, the Huffington Post blog team asked prominent Canadians what they would change about one aspect of our country. We are publishing their answers in our series "What I'd Change About Canada" leading up to July 1. You can find the full series here.
"If I could change ONE thing in Canada, what would it be?" Great question! It's a rare day you're given a magic wand or granted a genie wish. However, this was a no-brainer for me because my whole life's work is dedicated to making ONE change to Canada. It's my mission statement:
"To make parent education as acceptable and accessible as pre-natal classes."
Most Canadians have the mistaken idea that parents who enrol in a parenting class must have troubles; that their kids are bad and the parents are incompetent. If you have ever taken a parenting class with me you'll know this is the farthest thing from the truth. Taking a parenting class is responsible parenting. Isn't it a shame there is a stigma for improving one's self?
I teach my parenting workshops to doctors, teachers, early childhood educators, social workers, you name it -- and they all tell me how much they appreciate the knowledge, because while they may work with children, they are often not given any formal training in child guidance and effective discipline.
I had my own epiphany about parent education when I became a dog owner. The arrival of a puppy meant enrolling in a dog obedience class. After a few classes, I noticed the striking similarity between the pet class and my parenting class. Yet, you can sign up for pet-training classes easier than you can parenting classes. A dog training class is actually more expensive than most community-based parenting classes -- that is, if you can find them in your community at all.
Graduates from my class are prepared to parent their children in a way that will improve their children's mental health, the family's cohesiveness, and much much more. Imagine if every child was given that start in life. Imagine if every parent learned how to respond more effectively to sibling fighting and tantrums.
Imagine if all parents knew alternatives to spanking and screaming, threats and bribes. What if every teacher and pediatrician knew how to detect the symptoms of discouragement -- symptoms that can be cured by improving relationships rather than behaviour management charts or psychotropic medication?
Research has proven that democratic parenting techniques can rectify many of the problems that plague our nation today: youth with a sense of entitlement, bullying, conduct disorders and more.
My Canada would see every child having the best chance at life -- starting at home, and then at school and in the community. Parent education would go a long way in providing that. It's as if we have the cure for cancer and we're not applying it. We know definitively that education in democratic parenting works. Let's get the job done Canada!