It’s said that children don’t come with instruction manuals, and you could say they don’t come with a roadmap, either. But there are resources out there that can help you navigate the bumps and curves of the parenting journey. From toddler tantrums to adolescent angst, there are classes in your community designed to guide and educate parents through all ages and stages.
Close to Home
Many churches offer parenting classes. For example, St. Catherine of Siena Church offers a seven-week parenting seminar based on the classic best-selling book, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.” Referred to as “basic training,” this series prepares parents for the inevitable high-emotion struggle, whether a tantrum in the check-out lane or a scuffle over why your 12 year old is not allowed to have a cell phone. Greater cooperation, more effective problem solving and increased independence and autonomy are goals of this course. The weekly classes correspond with chapter titles such as “Helping Children Deal With Their Feelings,” “Alternatives to Punishment” and “Encouraging Autonomy.”
Schools often offer classes and special events for parents. Keep an eye out for materials sent home or look on your school’s website for current offerings. If you see a need in your community, such as how to help a child with homework, contact the school PTA or administration and propose that classes be offered.
A Short Drive Away
Any Baby Can is an Austin-based nonprofit whose mission is “to empower families so children in Central Texas can succeed.” This organization, known for its work with families of special needs children, also offers free classes and support groups for all families. Participants in its Nurturing Parent class learn general parenting skills, ways to manage the stress that comes with parenting, how to communicate effectively and how to develop family rules. Expectant mothers and their supporters can take the Be Ready for Baby class for pre- and postnatal topics. PALS is a 14-week class focused on preparing children for starting school.
The Georgetown Project is non-profit and offers free and low cost classes in Williamson County. Classes address a variety of topics, including problem-solving and critical thinking, teaching children about money and teaching social skills through play. Special classes discuss issues for divorced parents.
The Cooperative Parenting Program in Austin provides a series of parenting forums in Spanish and English. These classes focus on the needs of children and parents when the family undergoes a separation or divorce. The program seeks to promote healthy, cooperative, shared parenting and to provide information so parents can understand how their children may be affected by the separation or divorce.
Love and Logic is a curriculum that provides positive, loving tools for raising happy and well-behaved kids. According to its website, “the ‘Love’ means that we love our kids so much that we are willing to set and enforce limits with sincere compassion and empathy. The ‘Logic’ happens when we allow children to make decisions, make affordable mistakes and experience the natural or logical consequences.”
Candace Mills, a Georgetown educator and mother of two, says “parenting with Love and Logic requires planning, practice and lots of patience. Some days are harder than others, but having a few catch phrases in your pocket, such as ‘You can do ____ as soon as you ____’ and ‘I will finish talking to you when you are finished arguing’ really make a difference.”
When a custody dispute occurs, the court may order parents to take courses that help children make the adjustment. Often, these courses are offered online, and you don’t need a court order to take the class. All parents going through a divorce can benefit from what the classes offer.
Parenting is hard work, but there is help. Whether you are looking for advice in caring for an infant or need assistance deciphering financial aid for college, we are fortunate to have many free or low cost parenting support options in the Austin area.
Jennifer VanBuren is a Georgetown mother of three, educator and childbirth doula.