I've always thought it odd that you need a licence to drive, but not to be a parent.
Parenting is one of the most important roles anyone can fulfil. It is enjoyable and uplifting and I've heard many people say they wouldn't trade it for anything.
I certainly wouldn't.
But it can also be hugely demanding and challenging.
Most parents manage to cope, if not thrive, for any number of reasons.
Financial security, domestic stability, education, and good family support will often play important roles in helping someone be a good parent.
One's own upbringing will play a huge part.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />
But some parents aren't so good - either through their own fault or because of factors outside their control.
Some try, but lack the natural inclination or necessary skills and support to fulfil their potential, and poor parenting underpins many wider problems in our community, such as disease and crime.
The recent, shocking case of Tauranga mum Sian Corbett-Pitman is a case in point.
The 23-year-old from Merivale hit the headlines in this paper for the most appalling neglect by sending her 5-year-old daughter to school with sores, lice and scabies and without feeding her properly.
Generally speaking, it's an unfortunate fact of life that alcohol, drugs and domestic violence make potentially good parents lose their way, and ultimately, children suffer.
So it was with interest that I read our story in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend about a new parenting course being trialled in this region.
The Ministry of Health is launching the Triple P Positive Parenting Programme at a cost of $3.8 million over three years. Kaitiaki Nursing Services is the lead provider in the Bay and support will be offered to parents struggling to cope with children aged 3 to 8.
Bay families will be able to see a Triple P practitioner on a one-on-one basis for 20 to 30 minutes over a four to six-week period, as they work to gain skills to better manage a particular parenting challenge.
Discussion groups will also be held.
This programme sounds fantastic and long overdue.
Good on the ministry for rolling it out.
I have for some time believed there needs to be more education and courses available to new and young parents to provide them a foundation for the future.
Anything that gives parents extra education and support is good - but a programme such as this is only part of the solution.
Support from family, friends, neighbours and the wider community is critical.
So is being a good, decent human being. Children should be treated with love, kindness and respect.