Survey data indicated that parents (notably mothers) regarded their own parents and partners as the most important sources of parenting information. Respondents were not at all likely to use parenting courses in a preventative sense, that is, to use courses in an attempt to anticipate problems before they occur and consider ways of dealing with them. Parents reported that they would be more likely to attend parenting courses once difficulties had become established. There was a preference for any parenting courses to consist of one-off sessions on particular topics rather than longer courses. Drugs and teenagers’ was the topic most frequently rated as ‘Very important’ for a parenting course. When presented with hypothetical problem situations, parents showed a preference for solving such problems within the family rather than consulting professionals. Parenting courses were not frequently seen as a solution to such problems. Reason for these perceptions are discussed. It seems that the ways in which parenting courses are described (advertised) may be crucial to their acceptance by parents who might benefit from them.