Dispelling the myth

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 09:27 PM

Although I’m not sure where it began, I hope that its end is near. I am referring to the myth which states that parenting classes are for bad parents. Parenting classes, contrary to the myth, often provide just the support a good parent needs to become an even better parent. There are many benefits gained by participating in parenting classes. Participants can gain the support of other parents who have experienced similar challenges. Parents learn a variety of positive discipline skills, receive updated information for dealing with the challenges of raising children today, and gain the support of trained parent educators.

Parents and other caregivers often feel as if they are all alone. They experience frustration when trying to reduce their child’s misbehaviors, trying to console a crying baby, or attempting to take a break from the trials of parenting. Many would like to simply find someone to talk to who can relate to the challenges they face. Participating in a parenting class can provide relief for a parent when he or she realizes that they are not alone. During parenting classes parents often establish friendships with other parents who can provide reciprocal childcare responsibilities or just a listening ear. Parents also gain a sense of relief when they learn that many of the behaviors they observe in their child are normal. This normalization often relieves much of the stress parents experience while trying to raise their children.

During parenting classes, such as those taught by parent educators through Vance County Cooperative Extension, parents are exposed to positive parenting skills. Many parents rely on yelling, threatening or spanking to gain control of their children. Often, parents have not been trained to use more productive methods. Parent educators help parents learn to model appropriate, positive discipline practices. The use of positive discipline practices teaches children to follow rules and solve problems without becoming physically and/or verbally aggressive. The uses of physical and aggressive punishments teach children that it’s okay to yell and hit when they become frustrated. An increase in positive discipline results in the reduction of aggressive behavior. This will help seal the bond between parent and child while improving social interactions between children and others.

Parenting class participants receive support from trained facilitators with access to current research and evidence-based information. These classes are for parents who simply want to improve their parenting skills, by offering support and training to help parents be the best parents they can be.

Help dispel the myth. Parenting classes are for good parents striving to become better parents. While some parenting classes serve as mandatory interventions, others such as the Incredible Years, offered by Vance County Cooperative Extension are preventive classes that help parents improve their parenting skills.

For information on enrolling in a parenting class where you can learn positive parenting practices, call the Vance County Parenting Education Program at (252) 438-8188 or visit a parent educator at 305 Young St., Henderson. The classes are funded by Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start, free of charge.