What is Parent Education?

What is Parent Education?
By Sharon E. Hirschy, MS, CFLE


Parenting Education has been defined as: "programs, support services and resources offered to parents and caregivers that are designed to support them or increase their capacity and confidence in raising healthy children" (Carter, 1996).


Consider the following information about parent education:


  • Over 50,000 parent education programs reach millions of parents every day (Carter, 1996).
  • There are over 100 regional parenting publications, and several parenting series available through television, Internet and radio (Simpson, 1997).
  • Parent education classes and family support initiatives are growing in popularity. Many court systems, schools, workforce development programs and programs such as Head Start allocate funding and establish requirements for parenting/family support programs as a component of their services.
  • Professionals providing parent education programs and resources include parent educators, teachers, counselors, psychiatrists, ministers, parents, extension personnel, nurses, doctors, law enforcement professionals and social workers.
  • Parent education works! When services such as parent education are offered and are of the appropriate quality, several studies indicate that outcomes for children and families improve, parents feel greater competence, and are less likely to abuse and neglect children (Reppucci, N.D., Britner, P.A., Woolard, J.L., 1997).

Policy-makers should consider that:


  • Families today are mobile and often do not live close to familial support systems that used to provide information and support for parents.
  • Our culture has changed and the needs of parents and children are different. Most mothers are now in the workforce. Television and the Internet have introduced ideas and lifestyles that are often in conflict with parental values. These issues have created changes in parenting.
  • Parent education can provide the support and information that parents want and need.
  • Parent education assists parents in increasing their skills and success in childrearing.

Policy issues to be addressed:


  • Parent education needs legislative support. Funding sources should be provided for parent education and requirements that parent education and parent involvement programs be included in legislative packages for education, juvenile justice, and protective services should be considered.
  • Parent education should be part of every child's public education. Most children will become parents or be involved with children as adults. Teaching high school students how children develop and helping them develop communication and guidance skills could decrease child abuse and provide more supportive parenting for all children.



  • Carter, N. (1996). See how we grow: A report on the status of parenting education in the U.S. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Pew Charitable Trust.
  • Reppucci, N.D., Britner, P.A., Woolard, J.L. (1997) Preventing child abuse and neglect through parent education. Baltimore: Paul Brooks Publishing Company.
  • Simpson, A. R. (1997). The role of the mass media in parenting education. Boston: Harvard, Center for Health Communication

Sharon Hirschy is the curriculum and development specialist for the University of North Texas Center for Parent Education. She is a Certified Family Life Educator and works on a local, state and national basis with parent educators.


e-mail address is Sharon.irschy@unt.edu


For more information contact:


University of North Texas, Center for Parent Education, P. O. Box 311337, Denton, Texas 76203-1337
Telephone: 1-888-662-7457, E-mail: parenting@unt.edu , Website: www.parenteducation.unt.edu


© 2001 University of North Texas Center for Parent Education