When it comes to raising a family, we all know instructions aren't included.
One thing that remains a constant in family life is that parents can benefit greatly from additional support to tackle every day - or on occasion, challenging - family situations, whatever their child's age.
There's one organisation that's committed to ensuring that accessing parenting support becomes as routine as antenatal classes.
CANparent comprises Parenting UK – part of Family Lives, ECORYS, Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and the Family and Childcare Trust.
Its objective is to run CANparent classes that will help new - and seasoned - parents to learn tips and techniques to tackle everyday situations, while also meeting other parents in a supportive environment.
The courses cover daily routines and offer practical solutions to everyday challenges, such as bedtime issues and how to respond effectively to typical child behaviour.
Recent research from CANparent found that 81 agreeing that parents with children under five could gain from such advice, and two thirds thinking parents with children over 12 would also benefit.
Ellie and her partner William are from North London and have a family of three children. They recently attended a parenting class after hearing about it from a friend.
One of their children was waking up regularly in the night and they both were interested to explore and discuss alternative techniques with other parents.Ellie, who was also heavily pregnant when she attended the course, said: "I felt a parenting class would help us to prepare both ourselves and our children for the introduction of a new sibling.
Due to work and every-day life commitments, we were both 'time poor' but we felt attending the class would be helpful to share with group members in a non –judgmental environment, to let off steam, to find solutions.
For those who don't have time to attend group sessions, online parenting classes are now available that you can access in your own time and at your own pace from your own home.
William initially attended the group sessions and then changed over to the online CANparent course due to his work commitments as a freelance journalist, which reflects the online adaptability of the CANparent courses. They can be completed at any time and any place to suit the needs of each parent.
Ellie was so committed to attending her class that she only missed one session after giving birth to her son Jacob.
She returned for her third session with her newborn baby, to discuss and share thoughts about changes in the family dynamic – how Jacob's siblings might initially react to his arrival and how the whole family could adapt and prepare for the adjustment period.
Parents seeking advice and support through a CANparent class can be confident that the class is fit for purpose, as they are all Quality Mark assured. This is the only quality standard developed and assessed by the parenting sector to ensure affiliated classes are approved, inclusive and easily accessible.Brighton based social enterprise Parentskool – which provides practical and community driven antenatal support for parents was the first social enterprise to be a recipient.
Parentskool's founder Sarah Watkins said: "Alongside the many positive testimonials I hear from parents, I was looking for a way to demonstrate the quality that we embed throughout our course and organisation, and the quality mark seemed perfect as it was a one stop shop for parents and parents to-be.
"There are no other nationally recognised accreditations that will offer the kind of benefits CANparent does, so it was really a no brainer for us to apply!
"Parentskool plans to change the concept and perception of parenting support, by ensuring it starts BEFORE baby comes into the world."
A new father recently attended an antenatal session run by Parentskool. He said: "My wife and I are new parents and Sarah came to our house and highlighted everything we need to know and do for our young baby. Some basic things such as nappy changing, dressing a new born and methods for soothing a baby.
"Overall this was an excellent course and I think it should be compulsory for any new parent. It's taught in a relaxed, informal and practical environment and was both educational and fun."
CANparent spokesperson, Pamela Park, believes the classes offer a real chance to shift previous assumptions about seeking support.
"We want to change the culture across the country so that seeking out parenting ideas and advice is seen as a positive and practical step," said Pamela. "We know that parents want help and advice in raising their children.
"Currently, parents struggle to know which sources of advice are trustworthy. CANparent's partners have combined resources, experience and a long history of raising public and professional awareness of the vital role of good parenting.
"We want the whole family to embrace parenting support in order to help ensure children in their care get the best start in life."
CANparent classes are quality mark approved, inclusive and easily accessible to parents and adult carers who wish to access support from professionals and fellow parent attendees regarding a variety of parenting dilemmas.
CANparent aims to empower and equip parents with the skills to manage parenting challenges.
Ultimately CANparent aims to promote a shift in attitudes so that seeking family support is seen as a sign of strength.
Parents wishing to seek family support and parenting advice can call 0808 800 1102 or visit the CANparent website to register their interest in attending online and face-to-face classes.
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