One of the oft-mentioned drawbacks of parenting is that kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Parenting is hard work. It requires the ability to manage a myriad of tasks for our dependent offspring, often on little sleep, while facing stress and economic pressures to provide. The challenges of parenting are enough to make even the bravest among us want to crawl back in bed and pull the covers overhead.
Luckily, help is available. While there is no instruction manual, there are classes and parenting groups that can help. Social scientists have studied a number of parenting approaches over the years and have come up with parenting classes and tips proven to be effective. Want to get out of that power struggle with a 3 or 13-year old? Try the trick of shared control, where you gain control when you give away the control you don’t need (which is usually the control you didn’t have to start with). Finding your kid never listens? Try empathy rather than anger the next time they step out of line while still making sure they have to experience the negative consequences of their misstep.
Taking a class is worth the time, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau. These classes 1) improve parental knowledge about child developmental stages, 2) enhance and improve communication styles, 3) result in more positive parent-child interaction, 4) increase positive child behaviors and reduce negative behaviors, and 5) build social connections among parents which provide support and resources. One added benefit is that the parent’s mental health and well-being also improves after completing parenting classes. That is a lot of pay-out for investing a few hours in a supportive educational environment.
The trick is to make sure you choose an evidence-based parenting program. And Tooele residents are in luck, with multiple choices available. The Tooele Communities that Care has been running their Guiding Good Choices classes online in response to COVID-19 concerns. Online makes it even easier to fit it into your schedule. Guiding Good Choices is a certified promising program taken as a 5-session series with excellent outcomes. For information on signing up for the spring class starting online on April 6 or the in-person class beginning April 7, contact Melissa Brimhall at email@example.com.
The Family Support Center is starting to serve the Tooele community as well, and their parenting programs are still online until COVID-19 restrictions lift. They are offering the Nurturing Parenting program. This is a newer class that has shown to improve problem-solving, family bonding, and communication while decreasing family violence. A new 9-session series of Nurturing Parenting classes are starting April 13 in the evenings at 6:15 p.m. For more information, contact Bobbi Lord at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USU Extension offers ongoing relationship support and parenting classes. The website healthyrelationshipsutah.org has tips and tools to help with parenting. It also has sign-ups for free courses across the state. USU offers evidence-based classes, including Parenting the Love and Logic Way, as well as classes specifically for fathers, how to not date a jerk, and classes for couples or stepfamilies. USU has a new parenting program in northern Utah called PROSPER that might soon spread to our county. We know that parents are building the future one child at a time, and as a community, we should pitch in and help.
Do you know someone who can benefit from stress-reducing parenting classes? For busy parents, it may feel like adding one more thing to the day will be the straw that breaks our backs, but parent after parent taking these classes can attest that it is worth the time. When you take a class, you realize you are not alone in these everyday parenting struggles. Classmates provide support, exchange ideas, and share knowledge of resources that can help. If you are a parent and haven’t tried taking a class for the most important job you will ever do, it might be time.
Maren Wright Voss, ScD, is a professional practice extension assistant professor of health and wellness at the USU Extension – Tooele County Office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2409 and at email@example.com.