Oliver Harper

Executive Director,

This conversation is closed.

Everyone who is contemplating having a child or who has children should have mandated parental training for the benefit of a greater society

Life is sacred and precious and too often children are brought into this world without the necessary mental,physical or spiritual preparation for raising a life. To limit children through birth control still does not guarantee that those that have the fortune of life would be well taken care of by their parents. The average and often simple job any where in the world requires rudimentary training but when it comes to raising children we as parents pass on the sometimes dysfunctional habits of our parents. We have seen the devastation and price society pays when children are abuse and neglected. They often grew up and reap havoc and become a menace to society and even the world. We have ignoble historical figures who have left lasting and demeaning impressions on civilization and have a destructive legacy that is often replicated by others who are seeking their own sick sense of fame. Mandated parenting classes through various civic, educational and religious organization should be a prerequisite for having children. Parenting skill is not acquired by osmosis but through a willing intentionality to be commiitted, selfless and present in the lives of children. Having children in our modern day world has calculated risk that they would be subjected to divorce, trauma from parents who are addicts and victims of economic crisis that often precedes divorce. When children are deprived by the state, their parents are then subjected to mandated parenting classes before they can return home. We can be more proactive as a society with mandated training and maybe we will have less children being deprived into the State's system and hopefully have a society with less emotional bruising or trauma. It less about controlling birth and more about preparing for life as a parent.

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    Jul 13 2012: Oliver, No thanks. Dr. Spock caused enough damage and to be honest there are plenty of professionals out there that keep the waters muddy. Kids do not come with a manual. That is why each kid is an individual. Who would write the manual, what would be the penalities for non compliance, who would run these Hitler youth camps of indoctranation. This is Brave New World coming to life.

    There is a lot of bad things that happen but there is a lot of good also. As a professional you should fight to make the feds and states stop paying women who have babies for fun and profit. Everyone is entitled to an error, but making the error repeatedly and being paid for it is just plain wrong. As a professional you can work out the details.

    To be honest I am tired of these young women becoming the wage earner for their family by means of multiple births from multiple fathers at my expense.

    Do you really think that these women will be at the meetings. No way. The only people who would comply are the law abiding. Knowing this makes the whole concept invalid.

    By the way I liked the part, " ... but through a willing intentionality to be committed, ..... Yep I raised eight that fits.

    Manditory education, civic, and religious organizations smacks of dictatorship, socialism, and government surpression except they would never allow religion to be a part of state indoctranated kids..

    Can we agree to disagree on this.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Jul 14 2012: Congratulations Bob on your eight! How do you know that you did a great job? what measures did you put in place before and during that allowed you the success achieved? As a society we do have mandatory education whether at home or at a private or public school. An many other things that are mandatory like taxes, etc. Our thoughts about freedom is illusive. We are shaped and dictated to more than you know at the subconscious level. My point again Bob is that if you had the benefit of a society where children were a priority and parents were given the proper educational tools from a collaboration of respected sources that has the cultural flexibility your children would have had you at your best self to serve them so that they can maximize the best of what is stored up in each child. Most parents never read a book on parenttng or attended a class but some how assume that because they can procreate that they can raise a life and often it turns out to the contrary. We have 40 million people in this country suffering from anxiety which has its genetic roots in one of the parents and 16million with depression which also is passed down. The book has been written that gives us guidelines but as society we want to be so free to do what we want that we have concocted a world where truth does not exist anymore and becomes what each individual thinks it is. Parenting is the seed of a nation and we are often illequipped and keep talking about the extremes then we are paralyzed to find solutions. We have to raise the bar to improve society and that begins at home within the family. thanks for the feedback anyway .
  • Jul 7 2012: Every time I see a woman cussing up a storm wearing close to nothing smoking a cigarette with a toddler by her side and one on the way I wish there were some sort of IQ requirement to have children, but unfortunately sometimes all it takes is a couple of Neanderthals.
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      Jul 7 2012: In my field of work, recently, came across a woman who is only 24 and has ten children and now she is ambivalent whether she wants them back. Due to her and the other Neanderthals in her life the tax payers are footing the bill to take care of her children. There are so many stories of ill equipped and unprepared parents having children without the means to care for them. Pets get better treatment.
      • Jul 8 2012: Oh.. my goodness. Ten children! You would think that she MIGHT have learned her lesson from the first five! I don't believe I will ever understand this sort of mentality. There has to be something psychologically wrong with a person in situations like this to not learn from their past or have the slightest hint of empathy toward their own flesh and blood. So heartbreaking.
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          Jul 14 2012: The problem is that she learned her lesson very well. Each state pay different amounts for each child, up to 1,000 per child in some states. Additionally they all get state free medical, school tuition, food stamps, and housing allowances. So the lesson is clear. Have kids for fun and profit. So in a "best" case senerio she makes $10,000 a month and all bills paid for by the state (us) and has never been employeed. She is not illequipped or unprepared. We have made this possible and yes maybe even a little desirable. She is part of the welfare generation that we have enabled and encouraged. This "free" mentality must go. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Except maybe for this woman who keeps handing us the bill. She would never attend mandated training ... she is to busy laughing at the fools who made all of this possible.

          All the best. Bob.
  • Jul 6 2012: People should be given training in Ethics as children via classes in elementary, middle, & high school. This will help them learn to make good choices as they grow & develop. Parenting classes are available & often free but not mandatory. Most people can concieve & have children without pre-requisites. If more adults have a better background in Ethics, and learn to make good choices for themselves despite their own particular family history & experiences, perhaps then more adults will choose to take parenting classes to better prepare themselves for that role. People should be given the knowledge & opportunity to choose to better themselves, and offered the tools to create a better life for their children.
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      Jul 6 2012: i would not trust state schools to teach about ethics. they don't know the subject.
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      Jul 7 2012: Kim: Agreed conception is easy for most but what preparation is there to manage the outcome of conception. There is an impulse to have pre-natal care but what happens when the child is born and as a parent all you have is your history to pass on to your young child who in this 21st century would need much more than you did as a child. There has to be civic, religious, grass root and some govermental involvment to stimulate a national awarenness that childcare or raising children requires more for a progressive nation to elevate themselves out of the mire of poverty or the second class positons of being labelled a thrid world country with sub standards. How does a country elevate to become an industrial power. Good quality parenting is the seeds of a nation. Ethics within the school system exonerates parents from having the responsibility to cultivate and lay a foundation of moral values from which good decisions are made for the benefit of humanity. Each child that is birthed is a gift and has something unique to offer the world. When parents understand the preciousness of that gift then parenting would be elevated to another level where the collective potential of each family can magnify the grow of a society. The mandate I am referring to is an internal pull to improve ones skill set while improving thier inner world so that balance is established within the milieu of the home. The pressures of life is often daunting on parents and their coping mechanisms are dysfunctional, example addictions, explosive anger, estrangement, abandonment despite their presence in the home or excessive working to avoid the demands of being a parent. This mandate is the same volition that compels adults to pursue higher education so that they can cope and find equitable employment. Children deserve better but they are often not a priority because they do not have a voice. But the voiceless do grow up and occupy our jails and then become a burden on the system that cost us all.
      • Jul 9 2012: Should we exist in a communist society where some greater authority dictates what we all can & cannot do? Then your mandates would be appropriate & agreeable. Young girls could receive the depo shot to prevent pregnancy. Couples could apply to become parents. Those deemed "qualified" could be allowed to pro-create. Those people would gladly take classes or do whatever you ask, if only to be allowed to have the blessings of children.
        This is an extreme example, but I hope you see my point. In a free society, people have choices. We should focus our attention on the choices people make.
        Nothing anyone else does or doesn't do will ever exonerate a parent from their responsibilities - it is the personal choice they make to be responsible or not. Society should place more pressure on parents, should offer children more knowledge of how to grow up to be good people & show them the rewards of making good choices.
        Children don't need more civic & government involvement than in the past, they need love & guidance. They need to learn to think for themselves & develop good decision-making skills. They need to learn they are unique, as you said. They need to be offered choices & guided along their journeys.
        The people who occupy our jails made poor decisions, regardless of their up-bringings, their choices were their own.

        I am sorry to hear about the woman with 10 children you have encountered. Sadly, this happens. I hope the children are found loving homes through foster care or with other family members. It sounds like that woman has no self-respect & doesn't care about herself at all. How else could she not care for her children? It's very sad.
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          Jul 12 2012: Kim if you peruse what was stated there is no mentioned of government. We are defensive and protective about our freedoms but if we examine life with more scrutiny you will see that we do not live in a vacuum and we are shaped by our environment and are products of it. we are free to the extent that we live and make righteous choices. Laws natural and societal impose on our freedoms each and every day. My sense of mandate is raising the level of awareness within society that as a colective body we are impulsed to seek greater preparation and education before and while raising children. To choose what is right is a product of what is taught and if there is no teaching then people operate according to their own history which at time is dysfunctional and inadequate. We become what we think about and most people put minimal thoughts into what is best for children. The demands of life and the distractions of the system we live in rob children of the primary attention they need. Hence gangs, video games and addictions, We do not need mandates to go to college but a significant amount of people do it is the same desired for the educated parent.
          I hope this is a little clearer regarding my point of contention.
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    Jul 3 2012: so the premise is that human life is sacred.

    and the conclusion is that we need to force people to behave as we want, we build fences and folds, shepherd them like a flock, organize their lives for them, take away personal responsibility and freedom, punish those that refuse to comply, fine them, imprison them, take their children away and if they still don't get the memo, kill them.

    so we can have a greater society.
    • Jul 3 2012: You have a point. Whether they have any training or not, we should let anyone build buildings and bridges, do surgical procedures, drive trucks and fly airliners.

      We already have compulsory schooling. Oliver is suggesting that the most critical occupation for building our society should be treated in the same manner as other critical occupations.
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        Jul 3 2012: you nailed it. i'm against laws regulating those things as well. if an airline company is well known for its good safety record, i don't care how they train their pilots. if they don't, well, i also don't care. it is their freedom to choose, and it is my freedom to travel on their planes.

        and don't get me started on compulsory schooling.
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          Jul 3 2012: What about the victims of plane crashes that die while the inept company is establishing itself as a failure? Lives can be spared by pre-qualifying the company. You may not see human life as sacred, but is it casually expendable?
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      Jul 4 2012: Laws govern every thing that we do but we often want the freedom to operate without it. This freedom we seek is often devoid of responsiblity we should only be free to the extent that we do what is right or choose what is right or doing what is righteous. Humans without boundaries and structure are often destructive. It's like having absolute power it corrupts absolutely. We live in a regulated cosmos and we need regulation that allows congenial and nonexploitive coexistence. It amazing how we struggle to see the good in any outcome, how we get lost in the dismay of life, mistake the forest for the trees, etc. Often when we are left up to our own without guidelines we operate from a place that is often not healthy. Most endeavors are structured with guidelines and there is no reason why parents cannot have it too. There was a time children were forced into labor and it still happens in parts of this world. Some parents still subject their children into life long conjugal relationahips that is often traumatic. In England at present they are passing laws to prevent child marriages. Mandated parenting is a civilized and educational approach to giving children the best of society's collaborative wisdom. Who decides can be decided. Making a decision is what changes things.
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        Jul 4 2012: trusting the government is devoid of responsibility. i'm not against boundaries and rules. but rules should be local and voluntary. rules should be set up by the very individuals participating in the exchange.

        it is also strange that you want to get rid of abusive and harmful treatment of children by their parents, and you propose an abusive and harmful treatment of parents by the state to solve this. children primarily learn from example. and if our first idea is to threaten and punish, what do you expect from the children to become?
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          Jul 5 2012: The abusive and harmful treatment are your words not mine. Your bias against state institutions are evident. They consist of people who are elective by the majority. My thoughts are not that it is the responsibility of the state to mandate but an intuitive response to the life that is about to be born. Just as there is a natural response by mothers to have prenatal care the same should be for the life that is about to be born. The mandate is an inpulse that originates from within.
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    Jul 22 2012: What makes a child who was once cradled, cuddled, grow from an infant to a child to an adolescent and become an adult that takes up a gun and kill innocent people?
  • Jul 21 2012: even neanderthals(men, usually) with money and means feel that having children(chattel) is their right(and more often a success symbol)
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      Jul 22 2012: Sadly so! Having means and money has historically been a magnet for the security that comes with child birth and development. It is within these select families we have the greatest degree of dysfunctional parenting that is often mask with material things and privilege. However, society has significantly changed where more women are educated and less dependent and when choosing a mate they can have an equally yoked choice as it relates to values, economics, class and culture.
      Having children is not a rght but a sacred privilege and the children need to e afforded the best that life has to offer from parents who are prepared emotionally, financially, morally,developmentallyand spiritually.
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    Jul 19 2012: Yesterday in the news a mother unable to tolerate the cries of her three year old child took the child out in the woods an allegedly beat the child to death. A cultural habit she claimed that became excessive. Now if she had the benefit of some parental education she would have known do better and most of all developed an internal level of tolerance and compassion for the predicament of her child. Tragic !!!!
  • Jul 17 2012: "Kids do not come with a manual."

    We cannot write a manual for treating the mentally ill, because each case is an individual. True, but we can treat the mentally ill, and we can educate and train therapists. In the same way, we will one day have enough scientific research completed in the area of child development to provide excellent classes and training for prospective parents. We will know what good parenting is.

    When you look at all of the arguments against classes and training for parents, they come down to just two basic ideas.

    One, we can't do it because we don't know how. True, now, but one day we will know how, and we can already provide courses that are very helpful. Right now, the only 'training' we have for being a parent comes from our parents. For most people, this is roughly adequate. For children that come from parents that have no clue about parenting, or just do not care, this 'training' is not just inadequate, it is harmful. We can and should provide help.

    Two, every child is an individual and no method could address all of that individuality. False. This individuality argument could be used to dismiss the concept of public education altogether. All of us share 99% of our DNA. Yes, there are differences, but there are many similarities. We already deal with individuality in all kinds of settings and situations. Even our computer systems can deal with individuality.

    It is true that not every parent will take advantage of these classes. So what. Yes, agreed, we will always have bad parents. But we can try to minimize that problem. Not trying makes no sense and could be considered immoral.
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      Jul 17 2012: Agree with your perspective that one day we will have the necessary scientific information on child development that we can agree on that works. This is a concept in the right direction and would help. However parenting is an activity that is done to and with children and requires more from the adult in terms of their own inner development to be able manage the inner world of parenting that requires a sense of balance, peace. selflessness, goodness, unconditional love, patience and kindness; all of the virtues that vanishes or are diminished due to competing adult interest, demands of living in a system that values things over people and the mad rush to succeed or to acquire. Parenting is more about what the adult delivers and how that child is shaped by the character and traits of parents. If as a parent you are unaware of your own dysfunctions and heritage you are doomed to replicate the tragedy in your child. All children want love and most parents do not know how to respond in a way that transcends their own personal need. Therefore it is less about the manual and more about what baggage is brought or insighfulfullness gained that benefits the stability and growth of children.
      • Jul 17 2012: I think you just wrote the introduction to the manual.
  • Jul 16 2012: Oliver! The stage is yours! Talk to Edward Long about his crazy idea on "License to Parent", please!
  • Jul 16 2012: The sad truth, Bob. Even sadder is that her children may grow up to do the exact same thing.. exponential freeloaders. Scary.
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    Jul 9 2012: "Mandated parenting" If we fail to prepare, prepare to fail !!!
    • Aug 1 2012: But until we're prepared to fail, we're not really prepared at all.
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        Aug 2 2012: Interesting! I wonder how true that statement is and if any successful Olympian considers that thought? Failure should be considered not prepared for. Self defeating thoughts become evident.
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    Jul 7 2012: My primary point is that mandated parenting is a conscious compulsion to educate oneself. It is a moral responsibility to be more prepared emotionally,socially,educationally, financially and developmentally.
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    Jul 6 2012: It would be helpful to have a femle perspective on this idea. Women ae often the ones left with the responsibility or assumes the resposibility for caring for children.
  • Jul 4 2012: Not One Comment from a Woman on this subject! Melinda Gates TED Talk was all about down-to-earth problems of women but seems like no Man wants to address them! Can any of you guys tell me why this is?
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      Jul 4 2012: The poster is a man. Women don't think men know, or care about, anything. For the most part they are right. Let a woman post the identical question and see if I am right.
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        Jul 5 2012: The fact that they think that way has much to do with the fact that they are often left with the strains and challenges of life. They instinctually respond to life challenges within the family leaving men at the periphery. This proclivity that most women have towards the family has much to do with the poor responsed of men in our society to the demands of the family. The family needs the mutually involvment of both parents so that children can witness the mystery and power that occurs when people are united towards an objective. Some men do care and may not have the tools to respond or the history to extract from. Hence with mandated parenting which is an intentional response to know so that we can all be equipp to contribute to the greater good.It would be nice to know what women think about this subject given that they often bear the burden.
        • Jul 16 2012: To Edward Long, re: Should "parenting licenses" be required by Law?

          Edward! For Goodness Sake!

          How can you impose "license on parenting" without reverting to a Totalitarian Society, much like G.Orwell discribed in his "1984"?

          I would like to hear!
      • Jul 11 2012: Edward Long!,

        What question?
        I think you are right!
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          Jul 11 2012: The question is: Should parenting licenses be required by law?
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    Jul 4 2012: ok! thanks
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    Jul 3 2012: Do a search of TED Coversations "parents license". There are some existing comments you may find interesting.
  • Jul 3 2012: This has been discussed before. Who decides what is beneficial for a human to be healthy? You? Me? Some 'spiritual leader'? The current president? A panel of psychologists who compromise until they all agree they hate it equally?

    Also, what happens if a parent refuses? Forced abortion? Forced sterilization? Child taken away? Prison? Fined into poverty?

    It is impossible, especially knowing humans no longer know what is healthy for a human, as we have 'civilized' ourselves out of a natural existence.
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      Jul 4 2012: Edward your opinion on the subject is typical in that rather than elevate the discussion above cynicism and indulge in a divergent thought of what can be done when people put their minds together to facilitate a solution. We are creative beings and in life there are obstacles but it should not stifle what is possible. There is a common thread among us that children are innocent and often deserve to have better options and opportunities than what is often offorded due to ignorance and negligence. Each village, town or community can collaborate towards solutions. We all benefit from the collective wisdom of life and this can be passed on. It is important to look at our proclivities to thinking and if it seems that the glass is often half empty then it is time to change one's perspective.
  • Jul 3 2012: Greetings Oliver,

    In principle, I agree with you, but the specifics require the scientific approach. You say "The manual has already been written..." Not to my satisfaction, and certainly not to the public's. Check around and you will find lots of parenting methods, some of them based on scientific research. But the science is not yet complete. When it is, and science can provide a comprehensive guide to parenting, parents will be lining up for the training. Once the guide has been proven, it will probably be considered the most important scientific achievement in history.

    In the mean time, many people could benefit by parenting courses. But without a scientific basis for the courses, they could not be mandatory.
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      Jul 4 2012: The fact that most countries in the world have institutional systems in place to respond to the fall out from broken families afflcited with poverty, drugs, domestic violence and various types of abuse is sufficient effect that warrants an investigation to what is the cause. It is maladaptive preparation for the demands of taking care of a family and the emtional equilibrum to manage the inner world of being a parent. When you take a close look it is all behavior and it can change and be reformed. However science maybe less interested due to the fact that the profit motive is not there and most people have so many emtional scars that they are often scared to indulge in such humane projects.There are codified existing principles and virtues that when framed and packaged can appeal to all from within. I say again that the manual has already been written.
      • Jul 4 2012: And I say again, in principle I agree with you. The best chance of realizing this goal is by including parenting courses in the public school curriculum. In most places, this is determined by local school boards. That is where you would find strong resistance due to cultural beliefs. Good luck.
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          Jul 5 2012: I like the school curriculum as a place to start. we study many things in school that is often irrelevant to the demands of life. Resistance is often good and it provides an opportunity for dialogue.
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    Jul 2 2012: Hello Oliver,

    thank you for sharing this interesting idea.

    I agree that society is preparing us for a lot of things at school, yet when it comes to this very important core... nothing!

    This may be given by the fact, that it is difficult to define what 'good parenting' really is. If you look throughout history, you will find a constant change how children got raced and if you look throughout nations, you will find the same. So what is the right thing to do? And if there was, could this be taught? And if so, would it really work? I am certain that a society could define lists of Dos and Dont's, but those lists had to become 'alive' on a daily basis. But who is defining those lists and what if you would not agree to them? If you would take a look at those 'life assistance' literature on this topic available today and all the way back to, let's say the 50s, you would probably find quite some differences there.
    Also each parent is not more than just an individual with all its perfections and inperfections, and usually it adds up to two in a family (tendency decreasing). And if it comes to important issues, for example 'loving your child', those who have no or little experience from their own childhood, may have trouble to develop those skills needed for their own children. The complexity in all of this seems endless, yet like your idea proposes, I 'feel' a need for it as well, yet I have no clue how it could be done in a good and working manner. Maybe behavioral science has something to say on this topic and if such 'golden rules' could be extracted which work independently of space and time.
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      Jul 3 2012: Hi Jan:
      No easy fix! people are complex and prone to resistance but all behaviors are learnt and there has to be a better way than the present. Depending on your world view there are guidelines on how the human machine should function but we tend by nature to become fixated on our own way of doing things which often seems hard wired. Even if there are scientific evidential positive outcomes we will still have objections. My concern is really for promoting a voice a collaborative voice for children to be exposed to the love that they deserve. Love is a verb and if parents can find ways to live loving then we may have some postivie results. We start with a community or with the village concept to see how things work. The manual has already been written but few of us seek its wisdom. If we start with the premise of love as adults then we can mirror the right behaviors that benefits our children. It is insane that most of us embark on the journey of raising the complexities of a child with out any inner work or external effort to understand the developmental stages. We treat every other thing whether significant or insignificant with a degree of caution and even pride but kids we simply wing it each and every day. Look at how some folks treat their pets, their cars, houses and garden with warm and intimate attention, glowing eyes, reverencing it, with passion and its inanimate; what if children get half of that attention their lives would surely be different. Despite our imperfecions as individuals when we come together with an intentional purpose not to repeat the negative of the past things do change.
      Hope that the "golden rules" are founded on what is truthful for all. Thanks for teedback.