There is so much to learn when you become a parent. How to feed a child. How to decode an infant’s cries. How to put them to sleep properly. Parenting classes, which are available in most areas of the United States, provide lessons to moms and dads who want to learn better parenting skills or who have been ordered by a court to take them. Most classes offer lessons and advice as well as a safe space to talk about anxieties and other such issues. There are classes for both moms and dads but dad-only parenting classes have become an increasingly popular option for men who want to level up their fatherhood game. So if you find yourself thinking I wish there was a class I could take or just feel like a few lessons will make you all the more familias a pater, here’s what you need to know — and what you should look for in a parenting class.
How to Find Parenting Classes
Start by checking with local hospitals, as many will have something for you. If that doesn’t work, a quick internet search will turn up organizations like Boot Camp For New Dads, which offer classes across the country. It’s important to find out who the class serves first, as some parenting classes serve those who are there voluntarily while others are set up for those who are there via court mandate. Also: do your homework. You also want to be sure to look at the class breakdown. What’s covered in the class? Is it for your child’s particular age group? Who’s the teacher? Do they have an early childhood education or child psychology degree? What’s the schedule like? Understanding this criteria is essential to finding a course that works best for you.
What to Expect at Parenting Classes
Most parenting classes classes are taught by grizzled veteran dads who impart their generous experience on you and the other trembling new recruits, often with the aid of a genuine, real-life baby. So at the very least you should know which end is up before you go. The goal of any parenting class is to offer a baseline of standardized information and begin creating a like-minded, open community of fathers willing to listen and help each other out.
In any case, a parenting class should be a safe space for learning as well as asking questions and expressing anxieties you might be uncomfortable bringing up to your partner. Most dad-specific classes have strict “No Wife Allowed” policies. It’s also a great layer of defense against becoming a stereotypical, as-seen-on-TV, bumbling doofus dad, which you might (justifiably) fear far more than tantrums and diaper blowouts.
The Benefits of Parenting Class
We all need a group of like-minded individuals going through the same thing. That solidarity is important. But there’s research to suggest that parenting classes can be crucial in helping fathers develop good relationships with their children. Birth is seen as a critical window to get dads oriented to their new reality and develop patterns of pitching in and being active parents. In one study from the University of Auckland, families with fathers who attended a parenting class proved less likely to report behavior issues and displayed an increase in positive parenting practices.
So while you may already feel prepared, attending a dad class could have the ancillary benefits of your partner being more confident in your skills as a parent — something that will go along way in the early, anxious months of new parenthood — and also give you said confidence to be the best dad you can be. Parenting classes are meant to help arm you with the skills to be a good dad.