Parenting classes are about more than raising children. They help build empathy, patience and community.
When I talk about parenting I tend to lead with the assumption that everyone is trying their best with whatever information that is readily available to them. This tends to vary from culture to culture and be strongly based on however their parents or guardians raised them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this but without adding any outside influence, it seems the surest way to ensure that generational curses are repeated and repeated and repeated. At the very least, publicly available parenting classes offer an alternative to how any individual was raised, allowing them something to add to the positive elements of their childhood they would like to show their children. At the most, it offers some template for children who didn’t grow up with a family, or were raised in abusive homes, and thus have no basis to start from when building their healthy own family.
Why Teach Parenting In High School?
High school is the last dance before entering the real world. There is some hand holding in college, depending on the school you go to, but for the most part many major decisions have to be made on your own. The issue with this is that, more often than not, kids have not been equip with the right tools to make those decisions. We spend those years teaching them about The Wright Brother’s for the 16th time since 1st grade, instead of weighing the pros and cons of taking out thousands of dollars in students loans, for example.
Many high school students already spend time caring for children younger than themselves either through babysitting or siblings. While teenage pregnancy is down from where it used to be, high school is the last place any given person had the guaranteed right to learn. College is a choice and some won’t go. Some churches offer new parents some guidance but if you’re not religious, you won’t receive it.
What Use Are Parenting Classes to Students Who Are Uninterested In Having Children?
Most people can accept that children are a natural part of life, even if they are not your children. Before I was a parent, I volunteered at a homeless shelter in my city, providing activities and care for infants and school aged kids. The children were a part of my life, even though they were not mine. This is what it means to be a part of a community. We take care of each other.
Someone may know as early as high school that they have no interest in being a parent but that doesn’t mean they won’t be an aunt, uncle, teacher, god-parent, or neighbor. Unless you live in complete isolation, it is likely there will be children that you love at some point in your life. It would be good to know how to care for them.
What has always stood out to me about my childhood is how little support my mother had. I’m not sure she had any actual friends. Her closest family was eight hours away. Some of this may be attributed to her personality specifically but I think a lot of it has to do with how little our capitalist society values the concept of community. Community could have been offered to her. She also could have reached out for it. That neither happened speaks volumes.
How Do You Build A Parenting Curriculum? Who Decides The Standard?
There are other places ones parenting could be influenced: church, neighbors, etc, but when we talk about creating a standard there would need to be a base that exists outside of cultural biases. For example, on the issue of spanking or “whoopings” the research says that it’s not good for children, but many people still support it for cultural reasons. It is how they were raised, how their parents were raised and their parent’s parents before them.
Though they were infrequent, spankings and “whoopings” existed one my childhood. I remember three incidences specifically: I spilled red Kool-Aid on a white couch, I cut my brother’s hair and I chipped one of my early adult teeth on a coffee table. What I remember most is how angry my mother was during all of those instances. It is obvious to me now, as an adult and a parent myself, that she was stressed beyond what I could have imagined. More than anything specific that we did wrong, she was angry at the way things were turning out for her and took the frustration out on us. The result of this is that I feared her as a child.
Ultimately, whatever information you present in a standardized parenting class will be combined with an individuals cultural biases. The hope would be that the positive elements of the parenting class would replace the generational curses, while the positive aspects of any given culture remain. Most people are willing to abandon negative habits of they are presented with a better alternative. The key is to present that alternative on as level a playing field as possible.