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Should parenting require a license?

You need a license to drive a car and a permit to own a gun, but with so many horror stories of child endangerment and neglect, should parenting require a license, too?

Mother with smiling baby

Find out what real moms have to say — on both sides of the issue — about requiring parenting classes to raise children.

Pro parenting classes

When it comes to the topic of requiring moms and dads to take parenting classes and earn a license, most mamas are on board.

“I think that parenting classes would help parents — and ultimately their children — immensely,” says Elaine Sigal of MindLaunch. “There is so much to know and learn. We require people to have a license to drive a car, to teach, to practice medicine, but we don’t require even one class for the most important job in the world — parenting. Since most clergy require classes before people marry, maybe this is the time to insert some parenting classes. Possibly, adding on to the ‘flour baby’ exercise that is done in some schools could be required for all students.”

Many other parents agree, including Lanada Williams. “I think parenting classes are the key to breaking the cycle of traditional parenting. Often we all do as our mother for better or worst. Find a good parenting class not just to learn parenting tips, but to learn your own approach to parenting and problem solving.”

Meghan Leahy of Positively Parenting brings up the point that parenting classes may also help moms and dads get on the same page about their parenting techniques and values.

“Almost every pregnant couple takes pregnancy, birthing and baby classes… [but] pediatricians, upon the child arriving, should start recommending either local or online child development and discipline classes. As long as parents have a cursory knowledge of normal child development and tried-and-true discipline ideas… it could really head off some major drama. I think it would also save a great deal of marital drama, and help parents align in their values and create more of a united front,” explains Leahy.

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Many parents bring up the valid point that so many other things require a license, so why not something as important as parenting?

“It’s almost obscene that we have to take classes to tend bar, provide daycare in a professional setting, get a hunting license or make a stinkin’ Big Mac. But, to give birth to and raise a human being? Nah. Have at it!” says Tara Kennedy-Kline. “I do not believe parents should have to study a specific parenting ‘style’ (unless they choose to) but I do believe they should have to accrue ‘parenting credits’ in basic child development, psychology, nutrition and communication, before and while raising the future of society.”

Cynthia Aragon provides a perspective from a potential adoptive parent’s point of view.

“As I’m going through the process to adopt, I’m surprised at how much abuse or neglect is required before the state can take a child. Yet as a potential adoptive parent, I’m required to go through parenting classes, background checks and inspections. I know there are a lot of great parents out there that don’t need classes but as soon as there’s any question, the parents should be required to go to classes. Biology isn’t enough. Our children deserve care and consideration.”

No to parenting license

While most moms shout a rousing “Yes!” to requiring parenting licenses, not everyone wants Big Brother involved:

“I certainly don’t want the government telling me how to raise my children,” says Karri-Leigh Mastrangelo, of Dirty Laundry & Dirty Diapers.

“I can only imagine how kids would turn out if everyone was subjected to the same ‘ideals’ of child-rearing,” Kimberlee Bradford, of Michiko Baby says. “I would be a big fat ‘no’ on this one. Oy.”

Kori Ellis, SheKnows Parenting channel editor, thinks the idea might sound good in theory, but in reality, she believes that it’s totally impractical. “I don’t think something like parenting classes should be government-regulated or mandatory,” Ellis explains. “I wouldn’t want the government advising me how to parent, plus it doesn’t even seem feasible to enforce. If a pregnant mother refused to take a ‘mandatory’ parenting class, what would happen? Would she be fined? Arrested? Reported to CPS? On the other hand, if parenting classes became compulsory for high school graduation, then what about drop-outs?

“Government mandates just don’t make sense to me on this topic. I do think that more hospitals, private groups and non-profits could (and should) offer and market classes to parents, however.”

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On the fence about regulating parenting

While many mommies stand firmly by their opinions on whether or not parenting should require a license, not everyone is so sure.

“It’s hard to say whether it should be a requirement for parenting classes in order to raise children because I feel that the government is already far too involved in the average American’s private life,” Carly Fauth, Money Crashers says. “However, I do feel that parenting — or the lack thereof — is one of the root causes of many of the problems affecting our society today, such as crime rates, unemployment, teen pregnancy and more. At the very least, they should be offered or marketed more toward expectant couples by hospitals and physicians.”

Tell us

Whether it’s taking parenting classes or passing a parenting license test, what do you think? Should parenting require a license?

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