What would you do if your daughter was a teen mom? Would she drop out of high school if she were? Forgive me for asking these indiscreet questions but this is just one reason why we need parenting classes in high schools.
Teenage pregnancy figures
The good news according to the CDC is that teen pregnancies are dropping. In 2014, 250,000 babies were born to teenage girls in the 15-19 years age group. They think that more teens are practicing birth control although nobody can be absolutely sure. There has also been an increase of about 33% in the rate of teenage abortions which may explain the reduced birth rate.
The bad news is that only about 50% of these pregnant teenagers will actually get a high school diploma by the age of 22. The normal success rate for girls who are not pregnant is about 90%. This is just one reason why parenting classes in high schools would be a great help for these moms. And not forgetting future dads.
But there are other compelling reasons why parenting needs to be on the school curriculum. A recent poll on the Debate.org site showed that an overwhelming majority (86%) are in favor.
Why teens need parenting classes in high schools
Most teens (85%) will become parents. The weird thing is that parenting as such is rarely mentioned at school. In the UK, some newer GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) subjects such as food and nutrition, and child development show that things are moving in the right direction. But parenting as a subject on its own has yet to happen.
Once these teens are adults they will need to get a license to drive, fish, or own a gun, but they are completely free to raise kids and nobody will ever ask if they are competent or not!
Licensing parents would be impractical. The next best thing is to ensure that they at least know what they are doing when they raise kids. If they learn about that at school it will limit the fallout from bad parenting. Now, tell me which is more useful, trigonometry or parenting?
Here are 7 facts for teens
1. Teens can learn about child development. How a child grows physically and mentally is a fascinating subject. Understanding this is essential in helping kids play, learn, eat, sleep, and grow. They will discover what a child can do at different stages and how they can be helped.
2. Teens can learn about discipline. They will study the results of successful programs like the Triple P Program(University of Queensland) and why it worked so well. They will be encouraged to think about why certain strategies may or may not work.
A shocking figure is that when the economic recession led to more foreclosures in Philadelphia, there was a corresponding increase in the number of traumatic injuries in kids. Harsh discipline methods lead to child abuse, aggressive behavior, and juvenile crime.
3. Teens can learn about birth control, pregnancy, abortion, childbirth. and infant care. Caring is all about protecting children from harm. Even if teens do not become parents themselves, a certain percentage of them will become doctors, carers, nurses, and teachers. This will be fundamental knowledge.
4. Teens will learn about the impact of parenting on society. They will be shown the figures where parenting has a crucial role to play in making our society a safer and more caring one. It will also help them to understand many of the plagues of modern society. Drug addiction, homelessness, delinquency, violence, and sexual abuse are often (not always) caused by poor parenting.
5. Teens learn all about screen time. They will be shocked at how it can negatively impact a very young child’s brain. No doubt they will be disturbed by discovering that these “electronic babysitters” are laying the foundations for health issues such as diabetes and obesity. They could learn about how easy it is to prepare healthy meal plans. They will learn about the importance of play and why parents need to switch off their smartphones and really connect with their kids.
“Healthy infant development requires connecting with caring, consistent adults … . Cognitive stimulation by parents is essential for optimal learning.”- Prof. Robert Putnam, Harvard.
6. Teens can learn about their own brain development. Teens will be keen to know what is really going on in their own brains and why this is causing conflict, rebellion and other typical problems with their parents. They are experiencing all this first hand. Watch this video which explains what is actually going on in the teen brain.
Parenting classes will discuss mental health issues
7. Teens can learn about children’s mental health. Finding out how anxiety, eating disorders, bullying, dyslexia, and ADHD can derail a family is crucial. Recognizing the symptoms and learning about ways to help children affected will be illuminating and maybe even helpful for themselves. The UK site Young Minds is an excellent resource for parents and would-be parents.
School is all about preparing children for life but we have placed far too much emphasis on academic knowledge rather than learning about relationships, society, and the environment we live in.
“We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays Including Essays
By the way, if you ask me how useful trigonometry was in my later life, I have to tell you it wasn’t at all. Now I wish I had done parenting classes in high school because I would have been a much better and wiser parent.