I know a woman who has a degree in Early Childhood Education & Child Development. She graduated from college with high honors. Yet, she attended parenting classes throughout the entire time she was raising her children – classes on parenting toddlers; young children; “tweens”; and teenagers. She could have taught the class. Why did she join a parenting group and continue to classes go all those years? The reason – because it made her a better parent.
WHAT CAN A PARENTING GROUP OFFER?
There is a common misconception that parenting classes are for bad parents. That couldn’t be further from the truth. People who join parenting groups are generally excellent parents who love their children enough to want to become even better.
I recommend to all my clients that they consider joining a parenting group and signing up for a class. Once they’ve done it, the reaction I usually get is: “I love this group! I’ve met some great new people who have kids the same age as mine. They’re really supportive and we’re becoming friends. And the class is so interesting — and FUN!”
Parenting classes are not like going to school. (No boring lectures. No homework. No tests.) Instead, it’s a chance to get together with other parents who are going through similar experiences with their children. It’s a chance to talk and share ideas.
Many of the best Valley parenting groups meet for an hour or so, once a week or every other week, at times that are convenient for parents. Some classes are held at night. Most of the parenting groups provide babysitting and serve food or refreshments. The groups are generally run by a child development expert. A different topic is covered for each class period (such as how to deal with tantrums, how to get your kids to do their homework, kids and computers, etc. – the range of topics is wide open, and many are suggested by the parents, themselves). The “teacher” will give a brief overview of the topic, and then the rest of the session will be an open-ended, free-flowing discussion with the parents sharing their ideas and input. It’s exciting to know that other families are dealing with the same issues that you are. You can get some excellent tips on what works, and what doesn’t, from other parents – and you can make suggestions of your own. This is a great way to learn new ideas and make new friends. Both Mothers and Fathers are welcome.
HOW A PARENTING CLASS CAN HELP YOU IN A CONTESTED CUSTODY CASE
As a Family Law Attorney, I sometimes have an ulterior motive for recommending a parenting class to a client (even for the ones whom I know are excellent parents). In a contested divorce and/or custody case, the power to decide which parent will be awarded custody rests in the hands of the Family Court Judge. It is the Judge who will determine which parent is the “better parent” for custody purposes, and whether it would be in the best interests of the child to live with Mother or Father. The Judge will decide whether joint custody or sole custody is the best arrangement; whether there should be a “primary residential parent,” or whether the parenting time should be shared equally; whether one parent or both parents should make medical, educational, religious, and other major decisions affecting the child, etc. By joining a parenting group, you are not only going to gain new skills that will make you a better parent – but you will send a message to the Judge that you are a highly motivated parent, and that you care enough about the children to make an extra effort. So, it’s a “Win-Win” situation. You can enhance your chances of impressing the Judge and, at the same time, become a more skilled, competent parent. What could be better?
WHERE DO I FIND A GOOD PARENTING GROUP
There are a number of excellent parenting groups around the Valley. Two of the best, and most well-established, are: