Today I was at a Homestart meeting with a talk about a parenting course offered in our district ran by the local primary care trust, targeted at all parents. It was a really interesting session and really made me think.
'Society has huge expectations of parents, and yet at the same time undervalues the role of parenting; the pressures on parents to perform, to bring up perfect children and not to make mistakes are heavy and may induce guilt and anxiety.'
I'm sure every one of us can relate to that, there is bound to be a time for every single one of us when we have felt like the worst parents in the world as we muddle along trying hard to do our best, sometimes a bit of reassurance that our best is good enough, or give us a different way of dealing with things would be immensely helpful. So why then are these courses not overflowing with parents eager to partake in them?
There was one such course ran at my childrens school just as we moved into the area, it is a large school, with plenty of families yet there was a very poor turn up for the course. (admittedly I did not attend either)
Do we as parents set our self such high standards that we feel like we are admitting to failing by taking a helping hand like this? and how could we change the thought pattern if that is the case? I certainly don't feel like I wouldn't benefit from a course like this, so why didn't I attend? I'm not sure, maybe because I was new to the area, new to the school, and perhaps thought that by attending people would assume I was a useless parent, courses automatically hold that stigma to them, and that is a shame, because they truly would be beneficial to every parent, and certainly don't imply anything about your current parenting.
These courses are not there to tell you what you 'should' be doing, or give you rules in parenting to follow, they are not there to produce a flow of perfect parents (there isn't such a thing!), they are there instead to give self confidence to parents, to share tips and ideas with other parents, and encourage families to find different ways which suit them.
Not to mention the creche facilities whilst there, giving a much appreciated time out with other adults in the same boat.
The course covers things such as building self confidence, talking and listening to children, self esteem, stress and relaxation amongst other things. They are ran in a informal way and from this taster session today I will keep my eyes open for the next course in my local area, the Homestart become a volunteer preparation course was a very similar style course, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone.
So do you think parenting courses are helpful? would you attend one?
Heres some useful links:
Living with Children Parenting Classes