Here you are a first time parent and the best advice your own mother has given you is to say, `” don’t worry, everything you need to know will come naturally.”
HELP! You hear yourself saying. Yet, because you also feel you should know what to do you are too embarrassed to ask for anyone for help. Other mothers and fathers, after all, have been raising their children for centuries counting only on their instincts. Yet, your baby seems to cry all the time. Your toddler refuses to give up his bottle or learn to be toilet trained. Your second grader has just been suspended at school for fighting or your teenager won’t clean her room or be home by curfew. What’s a parent to do?
Well, the simple answer is break the rule of do what comes naturally and seek help from someone or someplace you can trust. It seems ironic that with all the emphasis on educating our young people that there is so little early training in parenting. Our high schools and colleges have no requirements nor offer but the most basic information about the most important job anyone of us will ever have to do in life. No one teaches us to be parents!
So is now the time to seek professional advice? It’s time to consider whether you could benefit from some parenting information. After all why do we all have to reinvent the “parenting wheel” each generation?
But you hate school. It has been so long since you attended a class you just don’t know if you can do it. What if everyone thinks your questions or opinions are ridiculous? Well, you should know that parenting classes are not like high school. You are treated like an adult and the trainers know you are there because you want to do a better job as a parent and they want to help you.
Today, in almost every community there are classes being offered on any given night or weekend. Classes offered by folks who have been there and now can share their expertise with you. You can find these programs through your local hospital, community recreation programs, community college or family counseling agencies.
Parenting classes are also age or problem specific. If you have an infant and want to learn the basics of infant development and care, look for a newborn group. If you have a toddler going through the terrible twos and you are ready to pull your hair out, there are classes to help you with winning the power struggles, toilet training and bottle weaning. Look for a “kinder-gym” program. It is a great combination of parent support group and young child socialization. While your young one plays with other children her own age, you can watch with other parents and a trainer sharing ideas and perspectives.
Parenting classes are not limited to young children. Most training centers also offer help for parents of older kids too. For the school age child, you can learn parenting skills that will improve your consistency and improve your child’s self-esteem. And for that most difficult and anxious of parenting phases, the dreaded teenage years Yes, there are even classes on helping you to survive your teenager’s transition into adulthood.
Finally, if you are struggling at parenting children with special needs, ADD, learning disabilities, physically challenged or mental disorders for example, you can find specialized training to assist you and provide specific information.