Many parents who are getting a divorce are ordered by the court to attend parenting classes. These may be in situations where abuse or neglect has occurred, but much more often, it is used to help parents develop more advanced skills in communicating or discipline. Attending these classes should not be considered a punishment for wrongdoing or an indication of poor parenting skills. Rather, they are opportunity to gain improvement and to show commitment to the children involved.
Why are Parenting Classes Ordered?
Shared custody is a common arrangement; however, in some cases, parents and the courts may disagree on how children should be parented. The court may order one or both parents to attend parenting classes to resolve parenting issues in an effort to protect the best interests of the child involved in the case. The specific reasons for ordering the completion of such classes are numerous, and most are not related to suspected abuse or neglect. Such issues are typically handled more seriously. Instead, parenting classes are ordered for parents who are less effective than they could be. The intention is to help provide the best environment for the children by educating a faltering parent instead of removing them from their children’s lives.
What do Parenting Classes Teach?
While no two parenting classes are alike, they typically focus on broad issues, including discipline, communication, boundaries and respect. For classes geared toward the parents of infants and toddlers, basic childcare may also be a topic covered in the classroom. Many classes are arranged by age group since teens and adolescents differ greatly from younger children. Most classes embrace a modern style of parenting that emphasizes talking about problems and non-physical discipline. For example, spanking may not be a technique that is supported by such programs, but time-outs may still be used by some parenting educators.
Courses are taught in a variety of formats. Some are more formal and are like a class in school, and others more closely resembling a therapy group or a workshop. These classes also tend to be short. Role-playing with other individuals making recommendations or providing alternative solutions is a popular way to practice better parenting. Many of these classes also include out-of-classroom homework assignments to make sure the parenting students are assimilating the information provided. Some instructors take these assignments very seriously.
What are the Benefits of Parenting Classes?
The intended benefits are numerous. These include the learning how to communicate and discipline effectively, learning common sense parenting styles, networking with other parents in similar situations and experiencing an overall improvement in how to parent. Many parents who have taken these courses feel that they worth the time and that they learned things useful to their family. Oftentimes, communication strategies were named an area of special importance. With older children and teenagers, communication can be particularly difficult, especially for children who are involved in a divorce.
In terms of benefits in the courtroom, the successful completion of parenting classes demonstrates a willingness to become a better parent and dedication to the children involved. This can help with custody arrangements, possibly increasing the time spent with a noncustodial parent. Parenting classes can also help allay concerns that may have been raised regarding parental fitness about specific issues, such as being too permissive or not enforcing rules. Overall, the classes give the parent more credibility in the courtroom if they are seeking more responsibility, including potential custody or shared custody.
The lessons taught parenting classes are largely considered valuable by many of the programs’ attendees, including those who arrive there courtesy of the court system. In addition, parenting classes are helpful in this practical sense but also can work as a demonstration to the court of a divorcing parent’s serious acceptance of their parental responsibilities.