Preparing to become parents

A local charity aims to tell young people what it’s like to have children

Carefree Kids

Carefree Kids provides emotional support to children, teenagers and their parents and carers in Waltham Forest

Being a parent is always a challenge but our local charity Carefree Kids is here to help with the emotional wellbeing of babies, children, young people, parents and carers – in whichever way we can.

One way to do this is to prepare teenagers in good time for what it’s really like to have children. We can explain what the emotional needs are of babies, children and parents themselves, and how these needs can best be met.

We go into schools and use methods which appeal to adolescents – often through drama – to make it vividly clear, for example, how tiring it can be to have a baby, how it affects adult relationships, how domestic violence can be so harmful to the mental health of children who witness it, and how we can try to make being a parent more enjoyable and calm than it often is.

No-one can know exactly what it’s like to be a parent until they are one. But by running the course in experiential ways, for example by asking young people to look after a life-like baby doll which cries three times a night, we believe that they will be better prepared.

Bringing in a parent and baby during many sessions gives students the chance to ask questions and get an honest account of the parent’s day-to-day life. And a roleplay about domestic violence gives them a lot to think about as well.

At present there is virtually nothing like this that we know of at school – or anywhere else. But what can be more important than promoting the best possible emotional start in life for babies and children?

We have run courses at Walthamstow Academy, Lammas and Rushcroft schools. The boys as well as the girls often showed a lot of interest and enthusiasm and join in with gusto. Some students who truanted came to school especially for the lesson.

It’s not surprising, given MP Frank Field’s survey of Manchester teenagers; when he asked them what they would like to learn at school, parenting came near the top of the list.

One student said about the course: “We know we are learning and we are enjoying ourselves at the same time. If we were just sitting and reading a book, that wouldn’t really make it so interesting.All our questions got answered.”

We plan to try and take the course into other places such as prisons and youth clubs and are now working with a drama organisation to take a play about parenting into ten schools, with a discussion after the performance. And we also want to take a course for young children into primary schools.

Our charity committee meets every few weeks on Saturdays. If you would like to come to meet us all, you would be very welcome.


To find out more about Carefree Kids:

Call 020 8555 5248

Email roskane@btinternet.com

Visit carefreekids.org