I caught a bit of a debate on TV the other day about parenting classes. A viewer had tweeted the comment,
“If you need to go to parenting classes, you shouldn’t be a parent.”
It’s that exact attitude and stigma, why I haven’t told very many people that recently I did a parenting class. Like it’s something I should be ashamed of. But the comment made me angry because it is pure ignorance.
Kids don’t come with a manual
Aren’t we all winging it when it comes to parenting? Trying to trust our instincts. Making mistakes. But ultimately trying our best to be the best parent we can be, and raise decent semi self sufficient mini humans.
We all had pre-conceived ideas about having kids. But when the reality kicks in, it is nothing like we expected. It’s a million times better and a million times worse than we could ever have imagined, or been prepared for. I don’t know anyone who is ever the parent they imagined the would be.
When I had my second child I felt a lot more confident that I knew what I was doing second time round. But guess what? There are bits that you totally forget about. Meconium nappies were banished to that dark recess of my brain for things that you never want to think about ever again. It nestled there between memories of drinking Mad Dog and the movie The Revenant. And guess what else? The second one is a completely different child to the first one. What worked for one won’t necessarily work for the other. It’s all a giant conspiracy that the babies have to keep us on our toes and tie us in knots!
When I was pregnant I went along to antenatal classes to learn techniques to help me in labour. Why is it any different going along to a parenting class to help me with parenting?
“I don’t need someone telling me how to raise my kids”
A completely pre-conceived idea as to what parenting classes are about. Because nobody is telling you how to raise your kids. In fact everyone in the class understands different households have different rules and priorities and that’s completely normal. You look at the theories and deconstruct them and apply what will work for you as a family. We are all different and that is something that should be celebrated.
Plus we are all grown adults. It isn’t like being in a classroom at school (apart from the fact that you are in a classroom at school). Nobody is dictating what you should do. It’s about open discussions and listening to each other like actual grown ups.
What’s wrong with learning?
I was one of those kids who loved school. I enjoy learning new things. I’m an academic geek at heart. I’m currently nursing a heavy addiction to TED talks.
My point is, I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to learn new skills and want to better yourself. It’s certainly not something you should be berated and put down for.
It’s ok to ask for help
If we are completely honest, we’ve all had those moments as a parent where we think; I don’t know what to do here, I don’t like the way I am handling this, or shit, I got that really wrong. And if you say you haven’t had any moments like that, quite frankly I don’t believe you, because man these kids can throw some curve balls.
Why not take a class to get some help with those moments or situations? Isn’t it what we try and drill into new mums, and in fact our own children? It’s ok to ask for help. So we shouldn’t be looking down on those people who are accepting help.
Why I took the course
The school my kids go to offer a free parenting course every year called Incredible Years. No one is told to go, it’s not a “you are a bad parent, you need to go on this course” Its the complete opposite. It’s run by the school’s Parent Partnership Coordinator, who also happens to be a genuinely lovely lady.
A few of my friends, friends whom I think are awesome parents, had done the course and spoke really highly of it.
There wasn’t one particular thing I was struggling with at the time. It was more of being tired of the same daily battles that occurred over chores or homework or playing with siblings. Normal everyday stuff. I wanted a fresh perspective. I wanted to change the record because I was quite frankly bored of the sound of my own voice. “Get your shoes on” You know the one.
I think my biggest motivator to do the course was actually fear. Fear that the teenage years were round the corner and I didn’t want to lose my Son. I wanted him to be able to talk to me about anything, and I knew I needed to find a better balance between the being too strict and giving them too much freedom.
Why I loved the course
It’s been five months since I finished the course and I can honestly say I use things that I learnt from it everyday. We’ve changed the way we reward good behaviour and we have changed the way we deal with bad behaviour, and the consequences we give.
I don’t feel like I am constantly on at my kids about things anymore and we all have more fun.
I feel more confident in my abilities as a parent and having done the course as a couple, it so much easier to talk to one another about how to handle things that come up. Or when it feels like everything is going wrong to take a step back and put things right rather than it spiralling.
Of course the kids still have meltdowns and I still repeat “get your shoes on” every morning. I mean they are still kids after all! Parenting classes don’t stop that! But I also know that they are normal kids.
Because maybe that’s one of the best things to come from doing classes like these. It’s that you get to meet a bunch of like minded people. Some of whom you knew before, some you didn’t. Some I had seen handling a tantrum like a boss. Other’s I had given the sympathetic smile to when you recognise that look of “how is it only 9am”! But all of us were ultimately there for the same reason. We love our kids, and want the best for them. Simple as that.
And now I have a pretty awesome whatsapp support group.
So to the woman who believes I shouldn’t have kids because I went on a parenting course…
I am a good Mum. I don’t always get it right, and I am not ashamed to admit that I make mistakes, or that some days I find parenting really hard. But I love my kids and I try my best to be the best mum I can be.
Some days that’s reading books and having living room discos and baking cakes. Other days that’s a McDonald’s in front of the TV.
Accepting that I don’t always have the answers, getting help and support, and trying to better myself is a positive thing.
I hope that if someone reaches out to you and asks you for help, you support them rather than berate them. And I hope next time you have a parenting problem that you need support with, you are able to get that help, without being made to feel like you don’t deserve to have your children.
Have you ever done any parenting classes? Would you take one?
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