Parenting Support in the Dutch ‘Participation Society’
Dr. Marit Hopman, i.c.w. prof. dr. Trudie Knijn
While support for parenting by way of public healthcare and denominational family care and advice has a long tradition in the Netherlands, the field gained new importance in the 1990s under the influence of medical and psychological ‘scientification’ and the introduction of evidence-based methods. Current reforms however are inflected with a critique of specialised forms of parent support and (re-)introduce a community- and family-based approach in which professionals are charged with helping families to help themselves and guiding and supervising volunteers who actually do the job of parenting support. From our research it becomes clear that the these lines of approach are not so much in tension but rather represent a merger into what we could think of as a recourse to extreme professionalism on the part of parents with a parallel diminished professionalisation of practitioners. The implicit expectation seems to be that parents follow scientific evidence in their parenting practices. Knowledge acquisition by parents now seems to be an implicit assumption and expectation underlying the reform. For their part, professionals are no longer the experts with pedagogical and psychological knowledge and techniques, but are expected to supervise parents in becoming experts. De-professionalisation of skilled practitioners seems to go hand-in-hand with an enhanced professionalisation of parents.