Parenting classes are a great way to find help and hope on the journey of raising children. But it can be super confusing – where do you go and how do you choose and what really works and what doesn’t? UGH!

It can be as confusing as 7th grade math homework! Lets break this down so you understand a little background, and then how to choose your perfect parenting class!

Why We Didn’t Need Them Before

Actual parenting classes are a relatively new phenomenon. Truth is, the world was a different place just a few short decades ago. We learned how to parent from a variety of other places. Let’s take a look at the other resources available to people.

Culture and Community:

People often stayed within cultural groups, even in the United States. Partly for community, partly for connection, these sub groups had particular ways of raising children. Consider a Latino community’s Quincentera – a celebration of turning 15 years old. Or the Jewish community’s Bar and Bat Mizvah. Every culture has traditions and standards for being part of the community – and these were very present in the rearing of children. So what happened? Now, in the United States especially, people move, and are no longer in their communities of origin. They may marry within a new group, with new norms of child rearing, and new ideas of family. While this is incredibly positive and helps to expand what’s possible in parenting, it can also be very confusing. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? And where does a parent land to create the best situation for their children without the context of culture or community?

Spiritual or Religious Leaders:

Very recently, religion was the cornerstone of many cultures. And in those religions were practices and celebrations and rituals that were passed down generation to generation. It kept the religion going. It also gave form and substance to family life. Consider Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, or the Jewish holiday of Hannukah. Or the Muslim holy days of Ramadan. Children are integral parts of all these – they learn how to behave on Sundays, and/ or how and when to spend time with family. They see how “other families” live – very similarly in many ways- food, disciplining of children, and work ethic. So, what happens to families when religion is not a center of life? Parenting classes can fill in some of these gaps and provide a new way to consider holidays, structure, discipline and values.

Friends

Sometimes our friends are the ones we turn to for advice. They know us best. We love what they’re doing with their kids – we watch first hand and see how effective their parenting is. This is a great resource! But often, it can only take us so far. Sometimes we want to borrow only a few concepts from them while creating and crafting our own. So we need some guidance and ideas as we blend some parenting ideas from different arenas. Again, this is where parenting classes are helpful.

Our Own Family

Our parents are often great resources as well. They raised US after all! So, since we were too young to remember much, they can fill us in on what worked, what didn’t and what they might have done differently, now that they have a different perspective. However, some of us don’t have parents we love and trust. Sometimes parents did the best they could at the time, but were still lacking, sending us into tailspins of toxicity, or abuse or anxiety. In these cases, when we don’t have a great experience being parented, that means we also don’t have people to go to. So, parenting classes are an excellent way to learn how to engage in a beautiful way with our own children. Wanting better for our kids is a great motivation to learn new skills and insights into parenting.

Learn What to Look For

Your Style

Maybe you want to learn about attachment or authoritarian parenting. Maybe something more mindful or gentle would be up your alley. Check this post out for definitions of parenting that may be of great help in deciding how to consider what to look for.

The opposite of your style

While there aren’t exactly opposites in parenting styles, they can be very different. Once you’ve found a style you like, find another style as well! You can pick and choose and blend to best suit your personality and the needs of your children. Maybe one child thrives in an authoritarian position. But another needs more gentle and attached parenting. These various styles and options can be accomodated, while benefitting the whole family.

How You Best Learn

Are you great with DIY videos? Do you need more structure or one on one help? Maybe you’re great when things are in person but can’t navigate as well with just a book. These are all super important factors in considering your parenting classes! Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a variety of resources below!

Resources to Find:

Books- There are too many titles to list here, but learning from books is a great idea! Scanning the aisles in a bookstore, or checking out Amazon’s parenting section will turn up some time tested favorites – like How to Talk So Kids Will Listen. You’ll even find some new favorites, like my book, Momifesto: 9 Practices for Phenomenal Moms! Don’t forget the audio version of many of these – so you can learn to parent while multitasking washing the dishes or driving to the soccer match!

Podcasts- These are a great way to find a variety of concepts so you can put together some parenting practices for yourself. Again, you can search for some top podcasts – including the humorous, dad only, single mom podcasts, or a variety of other angles that may suit your situation.

Parenting Classes in Person- These are very rare, but often community centers like the YWCA or a local family resources group will offer these. The main dilemma with these are finding babysitters if childcare is not provided, and taking time to actually show up to the class. But on the positive side, when you learn in a community of people, the support is incredible, you may make new friends, and you now have people who know you a bit and can help you find the answers you most need when you need it.

Parenting Classes Online-These are terrific opportunities for a time effective way to learn tips and structures to use in our families immediately. These can include videos, audios, pdf’s and facebook groups. We just need to find a person we trust, and choose their material to start. As stated previously, engaging in a variety of these is not only interesting, but can bring several layers of interest to our skill set.

Coaching for Parents- This is an ultra focused way of learning how to be an amazing parent through identifying our natural gifts, talents, abilities and background. It is a personalized approach to blending our partner’s background as well as our own to create a loving, intentional environment where everyone thrives – parents and children. Although the most costly of the options, this one often includes personalized weekly challenges, assessments, creating a vision and a variety of other tools and strategies to help support parenting decisions.

There is no one “right” way to parent – and now you can see why! With all the options and choices available, moms and dads can literally create their own style of parenting that honors their own childhood while crafting an amazing experience for their own kids. In this day and time, with all the resources available to us, all we have to do is a few searches and voila! Finding ways to be amazing parents abound for our choosing. As a final note, don’t be afraid to “make a mistake”. The best parents are lifelong learners.. trying new things and seeing the reaction of their kids. They are often trying to grow and learn while honoring who their children are and what they most need. The only way you can make a mistake is to not be present and give up. Your kids love you. As you learn more strategies, you’ll find new ways of engaging and loving them so when they leave, they’ll be fully equipped to start lives and families of their own.

Hang in there. They need and love you!