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October 24, 2014
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Classes Can Bring The Joy Back Into Being a Parent

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Too bad babies aren’t born with manuals and parenting isn’t a required course for graduation. Most of us parent on instinct based on how we were raised and on societal clues such as television. Unfortunately, we were all raised by less than perfect parents and, if “Married with Children” or “The Real Housewives” is your role model, we need to talk.

No matter how our pattern of parenting evolved, most of us could use a little solid advice—especially during the rough patches such as a colic, potty training, tantrums, picky eating, sleep issues, discipline, homework struggles, dating…yeah, pretty much the whole way. The reality is, parenting is a tough job, and most of us are ill-prepared.

Show me the joy

While parenting is hard work, it should also be a source of joy. If you are feeling consistently burned out, confused, overwhelmed, or angry as a parent, or if you just know your parenting skills need a tune up, help can be a just phone call away.

Carrie Little, program coordinator for Family Life Education at Family and Children’s Services encourages parents to ask themselves if their current style of parenting is working.

“You don’t have to repeat the things your parents did and you don’t have to stay the same [in your parenting style]. You can learn to parent in a positive, healthy way,” Little said.

Family and Children’s Services offer a wide variety of parenting and relationship classes. “Being with a group of people who are going through the same stuff with their kids really helps,” Little said. “It’s easy to feel closed off, in your own head, and not realize that other people are going through the same things.”

Family and Children’s Services draws parents from all walks of life to their beautiful, high tech, welcoming facility on South Peoria. In this comfortable setting parents from all backgrounds bond as they realize others are experiencing the same tantrums, the same clothes-on-the-floor, the same homework hassles they are.

“The conversations between parents are great,” Little said.

Family and Children’s Services offer specific classes for parents of 1- to 5-year-olds; 5- to 12-year-olds; and teenagers, 13 and older. There are also classes for stepfamilies, families with difficult children, families going through divorce, and parents who are co-parenting with an ex-spouse.

Improve Your Relationship

Finally, they offer couples relationship classes that not only fortify the bond between parents, but fortify the family as a whole.

“Research shows that if you strengthen the couple relationship, you provide a more stable atmosphere for the kids,” Little said. “Good things happen with kids when they have a stable home life.”

According to Little, when couples learn to communicate effectively, manage conflicts and have fun together, children are less likely to display acting out behaviors and abuse drugs and alcohol. Additionally, kids from stable families are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. All good reasons to make your couple relationship as strong and healthy as possible.

Little is quick to add that there is no reason to think that being a single parent means you can’t raise great kids.

“If a single parent is striving toward the goals of positive parenting,” she said, “research shows the children are just as likely to be happy and healthy.”

Happy Parents = Happy Kids

Finally, don’t forget to pamper yourself a little when you think about enriching your parenting. If you are a happy parent with a variety of outside interests, you will bring your enthusiasm and positive life experiences home to your children.

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