Parenting Tulsa’s Parent Educators Help at Home
Parents in training can get at home help from Parenting Tulsa.
Personal items, check. Prescriptions, check. New, tiny human to keep alive…wait, what? Maybe it was the pain pills, but I swear this is how my hospital discharge went after the birth of our first child. I literally remember pulling out of the parking garage with my husband and saying, “Doesn’t it feel weird that they just let us leave with another person.” It felt like we should have at least received some sort of “user manual.” I mean I’m the same person that can’t grow a garden and replants the entire landscaping each year, even the perennials. And, if we’re being honest…we’ve had a few fish casualties in our house too. Now, here I was suddenly responsible for another life.
The thought is a little overwhelming at first, but most of my worries weren’t about feedings and diapers. My fears focused on something deeper, the fact that I was this child’s first teacher. Everything that she learned, or didn’t learn, was my responsibility. I was a writer, not a teacher. I had no background in early childhood development. How would I know if I was even doing it right? It may sound irrational, but even when my baby was sleeping through the night, this thought kept me awake. And it turns out that I’m not alone. When surveyed, more than 75 percent of parents say that they worry about their parenting skills.
“Babies don’t come with instructions or ‘Help’ pages. Many new parents today feel a little unsure about how to be the best parent they can be,” explains Chris Maricle, founder of Parenting Tulsa.
Parenting Tulsa is a new local organization that provides education and support for families with children under the age of 3. The organization uses the Parents as Teachers Foundational Curriculum to partner with parents to help their children reach their full potential.
“Parenting Tulsa’s mission is to equip parents with knowledge and skills so that they can enjoy their role,” says Chris.
Chris has been a certified parent educator for 22 years. She also served as the Coordinator of Tulsa Public Schools Parents as Teachers program and as the first Team Lead for CAP Tulsa’s Learning @ Home program. These programs have typically been geared toward families with low-income or other high needs. But thanks to Chris and Parenting Tulsa, that’s about to change.
“Today my goal is to bring the Parents as Teachers experience to all families who want to provide the best beginning for their children,” Chris says. “All parents, no matter their educational level or family circumstances, can benefit from this program. In the past, I have served parents who were teachers, lawyers, physicians, students, stay-at-home moms, single, married and many more. All of them were interested in learning ways to interact with their children and feel confident that they were helping lay a foundation for their child’s future school success.”
Four components make up the Parenting Tulsa program. They include home visits, screenings, group connections and referrals.
Expectant parents or parents with children under the age of 3 receive a monthly home visit which helps parents learn to interact with their baby to foster brain development and early learning. Through home visits individually tailored to each child’s needs, parents learn to read and play with their baby, meet developmental needs and handle challenging behaviors.
At every visit, one of Parenting Tulsa’s parent educators brings a fun activity using low-cost items found in the home, along with vital information on how to give each child the best start in life. Parents learn to discipline firmly and fairly, while discovering ways to make parenting more enjoyable. The well-being of the entire family is addressed, with emphasis on problem-solving and goal-setting.
Regular developmental and health screenings are conducted, so that parents can be sure their child is keeping up with milestones. If more help is needed, parent educators provide referrals to other resources.
In group connections, parents can meet other parents for ongoing social and educational support.
Parents receive these services every month for about the cost of a nice restaurant dinner. You can find out more by visiting the website, ParentingTulsa.com or calling Chris directly at 918.496.3284.
I went to school for years to prepare for a professional life, but my biggest promotion of all came with no formal training. Taking the position as Mom has been the most challenging and rewarding job of my life. We take on the role of parents without a class and definitely without a raise, but thanks to Parenting Tulsa, we don’t have to take it on alone.