Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Help Make Effective Parenting a Presidential Priority

As leaders in the nation's efforts to promote, celebrate and advocate for effective parenting and parenting education, the National Effective Parenting Initiative (NEPI) extends its warmest and most heartfelt congratulation to Preseident-Elect Barack Obama's stunning victory!

  His accomplishment is a landmark in the history of our country.  It actualizes for all of us Dr. King's dream that the content of one's character exceeds in importance the color of one's skin.  It helps to remedy a wrong that our nation has struggled with since our beginning.

  It  is also a landmark in the history of effective parenting.  In speaking about fulfilling America's promise, he has eloquently exemplified and linked our future as a people to the competencies and commitment of parents in guiding the development of our children.  His speeches have urged and inspired parents to vigorously carry out their role as the leaders of families and have added to the dignity and status of that pivotal role.

  His emphasis on the importance of effective and responsible parenting in the lives of children, and in the future of our nation, has been particularly timely and welcomed.

  There are signs all around that many parents are not being as effective as possible, which is costing our nation an enormous price.

  Our rates of parental abuse and neglect of children are still shockingly high, with three million reported cases a year.  Such children and their families require an array of expensive services to prevent further abuse and to treat children for the physical, mental and learning problems that are the usual accompaniment of child maltreatment.

 In many of our cities the public school dropout rate has reached epidemic proportions, and ineffective parenting is one of the prime contributors. Dropouts drain our welfare resources and rarely reach their full human and workforce potential.

 Childhood obesity is a major health problem, and uninformed and ineffective parenting is here again implicated.  The drug and gang problems that plague our communities can also be seen as resulting from parents not being as responsible and effective in carrying out their guidance and supervision responsibilities.

 All of these problems cost our nation billions of dollars, and thus should be addressed for economic as well as humanitarian purposes.  For example, the direct costs of child maltreatment (judicial, law enforcement and health system responses) are estimated at 24 billion each year.  The indirect costs (long term economic costs of child maltreatment such as lost wages and taxes paid) exceed an estimated $69 billion annually.

 So linking efforts to assist parents in being more effective with overall economic recovery makes excellent sense and we urge President-Elect Obama to do so.

 His call for parents to be thoroughly involved in supporting our nation's moral obligation to provide every child with a world-class education is also right on the mark.  Urging parents to turn off television and see to it that children complete their homework is advice worthy of following.  Indeed, all of his parenting tips thus far reflect a keen appreciation of what can and is needed to be done.

 Our nationwide coalition of parents, providers of parenting services, and local and national organizations that develop and disseminate effective parenting programs -- we at the National Effective Parenting Initiative stand ready and able to share what we have learned and to help make effective parenting a national priority.

 We have spoken about how the presidency can be a vehicle to not only educate and inspire effective parenting, but to acknowledge parents for taking scarce time and energy to learn how to become more effective and involved. Presidential citations for completing parenting classes, and even tax credits for doing so, are options that we also encourage. 

  In addition, The National Effective Parenting Initiative has detailed blueprints for how the federal government can be positively involved in assisting America's parents to be the best that they can be.  We have shared such blueprints with the Clinton and Bush administrations, including through White House Briefings.  We are ready to do so again, and to work with our new president in seeing to it that all communities provide their parents with the educational opportunities that they need and deserve.

 Indeed, America already possesses the world's most varied and research-proven parenting and family skill-building programs, and other nations look to us to train their people how to train their parents.  American ingenuity and creativity has led us to develop effective parenting programs for parents of children of different ages and for parents of varied cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. President -Elect Obama's recognition of this particularly American program expertise, and his actions to see to it that every parent has the opportunity to receive the education and support that matches their values, life circumstances and heritage would be a massive advancement.

 So we are not only congratulating President-Elect Obama's monumental achievement.  We are also, out of the spirit of service he is asking from all Americans, pledging our knowledge and expertise to work with him and his administration to make the United States the most nurturing nation in which to raise children.

Dr. Alvy
NEPI Founder,
CICC Founder and Director
(818) 980-0903

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