The argument against parenting classes is actually quite easy to make. For the most part, parenting classes have been glorified by parents all around the world. Some parents actually think they are better parents simply because they attended an online parenting class.
The reality is a lot more complicated than that. It’s not as simple as parenting classes work or don’t work. There is much more involved like the accreditation of the class, what are the values of the program and instructors, etc.?
These are all questions that need to be answered to decide if a parenting class is right for you and your family.
There is No one Size Fits All Parenting Class
The biggest argument against parenting classes is that each individual family is different. The first assumption that parenting classes must make is that all families should be raised in a certain way.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each family undergoes its own set of experiences and situation that makes the family unit unique. Teaching on a curriculum is both harmful to the parents and the children if the curriculum does not fit the family’s needs.
I don’t believe they are doing it on purpose. They are genuinely teaching parenting based on what they think is right. What they fail to recognize is that the specific method of parenting they are teaching worked for them and their family. It does not it will work for all families.
I’ve attended many parenting classes. Here is an example of a lesson the instructor gave to us. For the record, I am paraphrasing because I do not remember the exact wording of the instructor.
Children will try to get away with as much as they can. If you let them get away with one thing, they will turn around and try to get away with more and more. Be sure to stop it before it starts. This makes it clear that you make the rules in your household.
Sounds like good advice right? Now imagine two parents with two very different kids implementing this piece of advice.
Parent 1 has a high energy 10-year-old. Their 10-year-old causes problems all the time. His parents have been letting too much slide. But after the most recent advice from their parenting instructor, decide to be more strict on their child.
Because of this the child starts respecting the parents authority more and his behavior improves. In this case the advice fit with the situation of the family.
On the other hand, parent 2 has a 4-year-old daughter. Whenever she makes the slightest misstep, she receives a stern talking to from her father about her behavior.
In her parent’s eyes, they are doing exactly what the instructor taught. In reality, they are building resentment through their overreaction to their daughter’s behavior. In reality, their daughter is not misbehaving, she is just being a child.
This is an example that actually happened while attending that parenting class.
The advice is not wrong, it just did not fit parent 2’s specific family situation.
Control Over Freedom
Parenting classes are much more focused on behavior control and do not cultivate the freedom of expression that we should all be encouraging in our children every day.
You’ll notice from the first few classes that the classes are very much tailored more for parents that have children with a behavioral problem. If you are having trouble keeping your child under control, parenting classes might actually be for you.
As children develop into teens we need to start giving them the freedom to develop into their own adults. Parenting classes, on the other hand, encourage keeping your children on a tight leash.
This may be good advice if your child is suffering from extreme behavioral problems but if that’s not the case giving them the freedom to develop is the right decision 9 times out of 10.
Parenting Values and Morals
The primary argument against parenting classes is that chances are these classes and instructors probably do not share the values and morals of a parent. Nothing is more important than passing on your values and morals to your child.
If you would like to raise your children from a religious perspective, for example, parenting classes may not align with your beliefs. For the most part, parenting classes tend to be secular and teach with that in mind.
Being religious does not mean you can’t attend parenting classes but it does mean that you need to take the lessons from the course and add a religious and moral twist to it.
Finding the Right Parenting Class
If you decide that parenting classes are still the way to go for you, here are a few things to consider when choosing the right parenting class for you and your family.
The first and most important detail to consider when choosing a parenting course is what exactly is the class going to cover. Most classes have a theme or syllabus that gives and over of the course.
Be sure to read that summary in detail to see if the topics that are going to be discussed are appropriate for you and your family.
Most parenting classes are tailored for parents of children of a specific age range. There is a reason for this. Different parenting styles work better or worse for children of different ages.
For example, as mentioned before, when children are younger you need to take a more controlled and specific approach to parenting. When they are older, on the other hand, you need to give them space to develop on their own.
Obviously an important detail to consider when looking at a parting class is cost. There are some widely expensive parenting courses out there. Most parenting courses range from $0-$400/session.
There is no reason to overpay for a parenting course. I can say with confidence the more expensive ones do not have a secret that will make you a better parent.
Summing it Up!
There are some major arguments against parenting classes. The biggest one is that parenting classes must assume that the families are similar to a certain degree. In reality that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Do you need parting classes? No. Could they possibly help you become a better parent? Yes.