Parenthood, parenthood … Today, it is so much about supporting it that we have somewhat forgotten to define it. What are we talking about? And what are the effective support policies?

The three main components of kinship (filiation, alliance, the representation of what a child is) have radically changed in a few decades, with an acceleration in recent times. And we had to innovate, first semantically. The appearance and widespread use of a new term – “parenthood” – probably marks all these developments.

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A neologism that became familiar during the 2000s, its meaning is never well defined, even if the word parenthood seems to have taken hold, alone or with its three main prefixes: -mono, homo and co. The term is sometimes also preceded by pluri or poly.

Occasionally presented as the “art” of parenting, parenthood is, in some cases, synonymous with “parenting” or kinship. In other cases, parenthood is formally distinguished from parentage.

We only really began to worry about “parenthood” in the mid-1990s, in analyzes of the roles of fathers, in debates about same-sex couples and in controversies concerning the parents of delinquents. It is in particular because of the development of initiatives aimed at “supporting parenthood” that the term has asserted itself.

Let’s clarify. Kinship relates to genealogy and legal rules structuring filiation. Parenthood is the simple fact of being adults with care for children. There is usually a coincidence. But this is not the case in single-parent families and stepfamilies.

Parenthood has three dimensions: social (governed by law), biological (governed mainly by genetics), affective (governed by feelings). A child can thus have legal parents, biological parents and / or emotional parents. All the transformations of the family can probably be contained in a dissociation of these three dimensions which were, in theory, previously largely indistinct, except in certain cases like adoption. Note that this tripartition is not an innovation. The family is always conceived as a group of people maintaining biological links (this is, traditionally, what is called kinship), legal links (alliance, filiation, adoption), social links ( cohabitation, mutual aid, etc.).

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Beyond words, the subject – that of support for people who, with the child, have a parenting role – is well on the agenda in many countries. Everywhere, it is the well-being of the child (in French law the major theme is that of his “interest”) which is at the center of reflections, proposals and innovations. Alongside and / or in addition to the traditional instruments of family policy (monetary benefits, equipment, taxation), old services are renamed as parenting support actions, when others appear.

Whether they are targeted at certain parents (because of their disadvantaged situation or in a call, discussed, at their responsibility) or for general purposes, these services aim to improve performance and skills, on the one hand, parents and children, on the other hand, parents with children.

Protecting children, assisting parents: these are the two foundations or the two cornerstones of the programs which, almost everywhere in the world, are carried out in the name of what is therefore tranhooly-news.comd as support for parenthood. The main idea is that the PPP (Positive Parenting Programs – to adapt an Anglo-Saxon expression) pay. These programs can address the concerns and needs of parents. They can ease tensions and difficulties. They can better ensure the daily life and the trajectories of children.

In short, in parenthood (like family policy, traditionally, in the family and, more generally, social policies in human capital), it can pay off. The conditions for success are, however, demanding. And, in the French case, where initiatives of all kinds and sizes proliferate (without necessarily prospering), there would be every reason to embark on so-called evidence-based programs, to know what is really effective, and to the yardstick of what objectives.

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A big question is to know what is really new and specific to public intervention in support of parenthood. Is this a new hat for adapted family policies? Are they new instruments, with really original methods and means? Well, the answer depends on the outlook and the programs!

It should be noted that these are not the only rich countries which innovate. Developing, emerging and emerging countries also have their novelty. Conditional monetary transfers (CCT), with their variations in certain rich countries, are instruments of (monetary) support for parenthood, accompanied by significant counterparts in theory. But it is perhaps, from an informed French point of view, that (but it is a “that” of majesty) of the invention of family allowances, themselves historically attached to obligations of schooling and attendance.

Beyond monetary benefits alone, in a large majority of cases, the procedures and measures to support parenthood are based on restorative interventions, often in difficult situations (separations, teenage pregnancies, a precarious socio-economic environment, delinquent children or uncivil, etc.). Supporting parenthood would therefore consist of trying to repair, mitigate, compensate. There is another option, preventive this time, consisting of intervening for the stability of unions, in favor of public finances, but also of the well-being of parents and children.

In international literature, progressives as well as conservatives support such an orientation. Not under the banner of parenthood, but in a more global perspective of combating poverty and strengthening social ties, politicians, of liberal and conservative obedience, have come to promote, in the Anglo-Saxon world, marriage as a strategy to fight poverty[[1].

Relatively substantial funds have been allocated in the United States for this purpose. As part of the Welfare reform passed in 1996 under the Clinton era, states were encouraged to encourage the formation and support of two-parent families. The Bush administration has released $ 300 million to support marriage (marriage bonuses, marriage preparation courses, reduction in allowances for births outside marriage, etc.). And the Obama administration has not put an end to these programs that some on this side of the Atlantic might consider, too quickly, only moralistic. On the Trump side, it is more vague.

Concretely embodied by policies supporting marriage, in the Anglo-Saxon context, or addressed, in the French context by recurrent proposals such as those to intensify preparation for civil marriage, these programs are rarely presented as support measures. to parenthood. And one might well wonder why …

1 – On the conservative side, see James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem. How our Culture has Weakened Families and Charles Murray, Coming Apart. The State of White America. On the side of progressive experts, see Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, Creating an Opportunity Society. She and he maintain that the family is, along with work, the first priority in the fight against poverty. And offer programs, alongside massive investments in youth policies, to support marital stability. Return to the article