Parenting classes can be offered through hospitals, social service agencies and even schools.
Parenting classes help parents -- both new and seasoned -- learn how to best perform the difficult, but incredibly rewarding, job of parenting. Parenting involves guiding children in a loving way while teaching them how to interact with the world around them. Many parents feel overwhelmed with the huge responsibility parenting often brings, with each new stage in a child's life being a learning experience for both child and the parent(s). There is no defined type of parent that takes a parenting class. Depending on the situation, parents may be required by the courts to take a parenting class. However, required or not, prospective adoptive parents, expectant parents, single parents and young teen parents can all benefit from parenting classes.
A parenting class is a carefully planned program given by a hospital, social services facility, family specialist or college with specific goals and objectives. Boys Town, a national children's service center, lists these objectives as part of a parenting class:
The above objectives vary and change based on the type of parenting class taken. However, the main goal of a parenting class never changes. They arm every parent with the skills and tools needed to parent effectively.
There are a variety of parenting classes available to assist all sorts of families. There are classes for parents of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, older children, teenagers and classes for teen parents. There are also classes specifically for fathers or divorced parents who need help parenting as separate parents. Teens and younger adults can benefit from enrolling in a parenting class either before or just after having a baby.
In the report, "Improving the Parenting Skills of Young Teen Mothers in Grades 9th-12th through Parenting Classes, Training, and Mentoring," Brenda Moore-Johnson notes that the teen mothers in her study had a lack of knowledge about developmental milestones and developmental changes, and as a result, weren't prepared for the responsibility the baby demanded. With studies like these proving that younger parents need help understanding and learning about parenting, it's important that teens and younger parents utilize available resources.
Infant parenting classes can help mothers build a strong bond with the baby, teach mothers how to listen to and understand the baby's cries and noises, explain post-partum depression, including how to recognize and when to seek help, and go over the basics of caring for a newborn, including feeding and diaper changes.
Co-parenting classes, like the one offered by Putting Kids First, teaches moms and dads how to successfully parent, even if they are no longer in a relationship together. This class benefits divorced parents and single mothers whose children have frequent visits with the father. A co-parenting class teaches parents how to work together and do what's best for the children.
A regular parenting class, one that focuses on children from toddlers to school-aged, is beneficial for all parents wanting to learn new skills. The Putting Kids First classes teach these skills:
Online parenting classes are also available for busy parents. A parent can complete the class at home and receive a certificate via e-mail. There are online courses that provide valid certificates for court-ordered parenting classes. Using the parenting class website, a parent studies the course materials, takes the test and completes the program.
For online classes a simple Web search brings up a list of available classes. Call the local hospitals and ask what parenting classes they offer. For women who are currently pregnant, hospitals and doctors offices will usually offer information about prenatal and parenting classes available in the area. For teen parents, some school districts, such as the San Bernardino City Schools, offer parenting classes for expectant and new teen parents. These classes not only educate new parents about raising a child, but also allow them to finish high school. The department of social services can also point parents in the right direction and suggest the best parenting classes.
There are many different types of parenting classes available; finding which type best suits what the parent or expectant-parent is looking for will ensure the overall success of the class and lead to a healthy, happy relationship between parent and child.