Essays about parenting

Scotland: the best place to bring up children? (summary)Scotland: the best place to bring up children? A collection of essays about parenting in Scotland. Full report.

Scotland: the best place to bring up children?

In this collection contributors put forward proposals for what needs to happen to make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children.

You can view the essays on this website or download them below.

We launched the collection with a memorable line-up of keynote speakers and round-table discussions - read our report of the event here.


Being a parent is not about a set of rules to follow to produce a happy, well-adjusted young person. If it were, in some ways, it would be a lot easier. In others, it would be far less interesting. Whoever the parent is (including the state as corporate parent), families are essentially about relationships and how people relate both within their families and from them to the wider world. At its best, parenting is about love, kindness and caring. For many parents, particularly those in difficult circumstances, this is not easy to achieve and they may need extra help. This section looks at what it means to be a parent; being a father; how differing family backgrounds affect people; and how different countries help families.

Towards a national parenting strategy

With the Scottish Government considering a national parenting strategy, contributors discuss what needs to happen to make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children. Children usually come with families, which is why 'getting it right for every child' generally means getting it right for every family. The critical place of supporting parents in children's early years; the state's role as corporate parent; and the importance of communication are all considered in the light of the proposed parenting strategy and better support for families.

Parenting - early years to teenage years

The early years have received considerable attention as a critical time in child development and a vital intervention point for improving children's lives. Investing in the early years pays considerable dividends later on. While the early years can be difficult for parents, the teenage years throw up their own problems, and many parents struggle to manage. Writers in this section look at the importance of these times in a child's life; the research findings; and effective approaches to parenting and family support.

Parenting under pressure

Not all families have equal chances. In particular, children in families struggling with substance misuse, those affected by domestic abuse, and parents with mental health difficulties fare worse than others. More children are affected by a parent's imprisonment than by divorce. Evidence shows that parents on a low income are not worse parents, but they do struggle against greater odds, and with changes to welfare benefits, the pressures on low-income families are set to increase. As well as vital universal services in the early years, families with specific difficulties may need tailored or intensive help. The articles in this section consider the issues for, and ways of helping, families under pressure.

Supporting families through transition

Over the past few decades, there have been fundamental changes to the family. Societal changes, such as the role of women, acceptance of difference in sexual orientation, and policy changes, such as to divorce and employment, mean that families are probably more heterogeneous than ever before.This makes it difficult to design policies responsive to families which are increasingly different, disjointed and yet intimately and complexly connected to other families. In this section, contributors cover the changing shape of the family (for example, lone parents and adoptive parents) and consider what happens when families separate.

Some practice examples

There is much good practice already in Scotland which indicates how families can be supported. This section highlights examples from around Scotland including educational projects, psychology, parenting programmes, helpline practice and work with young offender fathers. Children's educational outcomes vary widely and are closely linked to their backgrounds. Parental involvement in their children's education can make a considerable difference. In this section, contributors consider how this might be achieved and describe various interventions designed to help with children's behavioural problems.