Do You Really Need Parenting Classes?
Parenting classes might seem like an implication that you're a bad parent. After all, why would Albert Einstein take a math class?
The thing is, raising kids isn't nearly as formulaic as calculating the speed of light. It's tough, and having guidance and support can help even the best of parents. But do you need parenting classes? Here's what to consider first.
What's the Point of Parenting Classes?
Good question. There is no parenting handbook. Every child is unique. A parenting style that works for one family may be an epic fail for another. However, some basic parenting fundamentals are universal. That's where parenting classes can help.
They provide useful tips, advice and strategies for raising children. And you get to go to parent school with other parents. Together, you can learn what it takes to take care of a baby, toddler or teen. And realize you are not mom or dad of the year material.
Who Needs Them?
While some parenting classes are mandated by courts in cases of neglect or abuse, that's far from their only use. Parenting classes are great for:
- New parents hoping to educate themselves on child development
- Parents who are struggling to cope with a particular age or stage
- Parents who are unsure how to address an unwanted behavior
- Parents who need guidance making major decisions for their kids, like choosing the right school or navigating a move
- Parents who just want a deeper connection with their kids
There's no wrong reason to take a parenting class. It's always better to take a class that's not 100 percent necessary than to miss out on valuable information that could foster a stronger parent-child relationship.
How Helpful Are They, Really?
Even if you don't have any major concerns, parenting classes have so many benefits. Parenting classes can inform you about different parenting styles and help you find the right one for you.
They can also help you understand what's typical behavior for each age, address problems, manage stress and find support.
Parenting is one of the most daunting challenges a person can take on. Simply sharing your frustrations and worries with fellow parents can help you feel less alone.
All Parenting Classes Are Not Created Equal
There are many types of parenting classes, so take your time finding a good fit. Classes for expecting parents, new baby classes, breastfeeding workshops and child development classes are the most common, but they're far from the only ones. There are also workshops for parents of older children, teens and kids with special needs.
If you're interested in a specific parenting style, like attachment parenting or active parenting, there are classes for those too. Search for local classes based on your own interests and needs, and you're likely to find a match.
Virtual Parenting Classes Are Worth Consideration
Classes are often offered at hospitals, preschools and social service facilities. If you're too busy or tapped out to leave the house, don't feel bad. There are tons of online parenting classes you can sign up for.
Parenting coach Meghan Leahy offers a six-month club membership, including an age-specific parenting course, access to a private Facebook parenting group and other perks.
There are also online parenting courses specifically for parents who want to form a co-parenting plan, a course focused on positive parenting, a class just for parents of teens and a class for new parents.
Free Alternatives to Parenting Classes
Giving your parenting skills some TLC doesn't have to break the bank. There are tons of free or low-cost resources out there.
The Positive Parenting Conference has an annual, free masterclass featuring world-leading parenting experts. Cal Parents also offers numerous free, virtual classes, while UC San Diego offers a course about the science behind parenting. Peace At Home is also a great, free resource with multiple live classes offered in English and Spanish.
When it comes down to it, there isn't one perfect parenting course that has all the answers. Many classes allow you to try one or two for free before committing. Explore your options until you find one that checks all the right boxes.