KIERAN HOWARD: There needs to be a uni degree course in parenting

I used to think new parents needed nothing more than a simple manual to help survive those early years.

After all, an informative book to combat the daily struggles of raising a child would prove rather handy.

But that was at a time when I merely witnessed from afar as others attempted to deal with their toddlers’ tantrums.

It was a time long before Louie entered the world, and way before I was suddenly confronted with similar battles.

But with the arrival of our little livewire I quickly realised the world of parenting demands significantly more than just a manual.

I’d suggest it needs a whole degree devoted to it.

The University of Portsmouth should really consider offering one. I may even suggest it to the vice chancellor.

Let’s face it, you can graduate in virtually anything these days, so why not parenting?

If you can study brewing and distilling, ethical hacking and hand embroidery, then I’d argue that there’s definitely a gap in the market for a parenting equivalent.

And, arguably, doing a good job of being a parent is way more important than applied golf management, isn’t it?

It should be mandatory – like a national service for would-be mums and dads.

I’d sacrifice three years of my life for the long-term gains it would give us as a family.

Hopefully they’d break the course down into various units too, such as How To Put a Child’s Socks Back on After They’ve Been Swimming.

That particular conundrum is easily one of the greatest mysteries known to humankind.

It’s a right pain.

No matter how much I towel dry Louie’s feet after swimming the clammy little things still seem to hold enough moisture to fill a small paddling pool.

Another useful unit would be How To Complete a Game of 10-Pin Bowling With a One-Year-Old.

The little man had his first experience of the alleys at Hollywood Bowl in Gunwharf Quays last week.

Let me tell you, taking a young child bowling is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Trying to carry him, a ball and line up the special ramp, left me wishing for an extra arm, or two.

I had thought the biggest and only danger would be the weighty balls.

As soon as the game was underway though, my primary concern was simply ensuring I kept hold of Louie while we rolled the ball down the lane, and not vice versa.

I just about achieved that, so I reckon I might be able to pass that particular unit.

ALWAYS READY WITH AN ANSWER

Being a dad can be a great conversation starter.

Unfortunately, some of the questions you’re asked can often be slightly on the repetitive side.

A mother of twins, who was clearly a little fed-up with people repeatedly asking her the same things, devised an ingenious plan to counteract this.

When out with her two daughters, Annie Nolan decided to place answers to the more frequent questions on pieces of paper.

These were then attached to the girls’ pushchair.

What she wrote included, ‘Yes, they, are mine’, ‘Yes they are twins’ and ‘No they aren’t identical’.

I’m a fan of the idea because it’s a conversation starter in its own right.

I wish I’d done something similar when Louie was a newborn.

I lost count of the number of times I was asked if his name was spelt with an ‘ie’ or an ‘is’ or if he was sleeping well at night.

Of course, you don’t blame people for asking.

It’s only because they’re interested and they care. They don’t know you’ve been asked the same thing a hundred times already.

My piece of paper would have read something along the lines of, ‘No, he’s not crawling yet, but we’re remaining hopeful’, ‘Yes, he does look like us, which is handy because we are his parents’ and ‘No, but you’ll definitely be the first to know if we do consider having another one.’

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