Most of us learn to parent based on what we saw growing up, combined with watching our peers, reading books and our basic common sense and instinct. However, we weren’t all blessed with positive role models and can often use a little guidance from specialists in the field. Therefore, the best time to take a parenting class is when you are about to become a first time parent because you have less to “unlearn”. If you are a seasoned parent, you might take a parenting class to learn how to prepare for the next stage, or rework how you have been handling things. Or, you might be a parent who has been mandated to take a class for divorce. Online parenting classes are an excellent option for all 3 of these scenarios because they give you the opportunity to stay in the comfort of your own home to master skills in effective communication, setting boundaries, the importance of building self-esteem, creating positive relationships and other practical solutions to the common daily obstacles you are bound to encounter.
Parenting is one of the most difficult as well as most rewarding jobs you will ever have. Just like going to school or having a career, over time you will get better at it. The ultimate goal as a parent is to teach our kids how to become a contributing, caring, self-disciplined, independent and responsible adult. So, what is one of the most important things you can do? Spend quality time with your kids! This means listening and paying attention to them while acknowledging their ideas and feelings in a non-judgmental way. During this time, your cell phone is put away, there’s no checking email on your computer and you are in the moment. When researchers ask successful, happy families what they do to create a positive environment, this is what they say:
1. Have weekly family meetings. This is at least a 30-minute block of time when the entire family gets together to talk about successes, air grievances and make suggestions for upcoming events. This gives each child to feel like they have a voice and what their feelings matter.
2. Schedule family outings. Even if there is a wide age span, find activities that everyone can enjoy together. Some ideas include: creating and maintaining a vegetable garden; cooking and baking for a special family dinner or event; old-fashioned board game night; hiking; beach day; or breaking out the crafts to make cards, work on a blanket, or scrapbook family photos.
3. Volunteer together. Each family member picks one charity that is important to him or her and the entire family donates some time together once a month to help out for this cause. There are hundreds of things to do like feeding the homeless or going shopping together to purchase food for a homeless shelter. Another idea for families with young kids is spending a Sunday at home making doggy toys and blankets to donate to the local animal shelter. Or, doing a beach or trail cleanup together.
4. Support each other. Each member of your family might have a different interest. For example, your daughter plays the piano, your son plays soccer, you enjoy going to plays, and your husband loves baseball. Take the time to gather the entire family and attend each of these special events as a unit a few times a year.