The beginnings of Parenting Now!, formerly known as Birth To Three, always bring back sweet memories for me.
The birth of my first baby, Joshua, in 1976, was the catalyst that brought me, Andi Fischhoff and Sue Kelly together to found Birth To Three. Andi and Sue were research assistants for a University of Oregon Infant Temperament Study observing babies and mothers. Joshua and I were in the study. In the course of observing moms and babies in their homes, Andi and Sue saw the isolation and lack of support for new parents, many of whom, like me, were far from their families and didn’t know where to turn with questions about their new baby.
With backgrounds in early intervention, nursing and education, the three of us researched how the earliest months and years in a child’s development are shaped by good parenting. We came up with a model for parenting groups, where parents could learn about child development, gain parenting skills, support one another and get connected with other parenting resources.
At first, groups met in families’ homes. Later, space was donated by the school district. In 2000, Birth To Three got a home of our own. As family needs increased, we added staff and developed programs for parents of toddlers, teen parents, parents with extremely high stress in their lives, and for Spanish-speaking parents.
Over time, Parenting Now! developed curricula that is now used in Oregon and all over the world. In Romania, more than 10,000 families have benefited from the Make Parenting A Pleasure curriculum. In Ukraine, this curriculum is the approved parenting curriculum for the country, and it’s used in at least 15 other countries, including India, where we were hosted by Holt International to train professionals from India, Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. In the United States, Parenting Now! has trained thousands of parent educators in communities ranging from Sisters to Leadville, Colo., and East Orange, N.J., to Los Angeles.
Today, Parenting Now! is one of the premier parenting organizations in the United States. We have developed nationally recognized evidence-based and research-informed parenting education curricula, which is now being used in more than 1,000 U.S. sites.
Parenting Now! also has had a tremendous impact right here in our community. More than 100,000 parents and children in Lane County have participated in Parenting Now! or Birth To Three — that’s almost half of the population of Eugene and Springfield combined!
We hear so many stories about the difference our organization has made in helping parents be the kind of parents they want to be. And it’s a joy to see former Birth To Three babies bringing their babies to Parenting Now! to get the support, parenting skills and lifelong connections their parents received here decades ago.
Many of the families who came together through Parenting Now!/Birth To Three have stayed connected and formed lifelong relationships, sometimes becoming like extended family for each other, supporting one another through tough times and celebrations. We know of at least one group that has been meeting for 39 years.
It’s been 40 years since Parenting Now! was born. My baby Joshua is now a dad. The impact this organization has had on parents and children locally is beyond what I could have ever imagined back in 1978. So, happy birthday, Parenting Now! — here’s to the next 40 years!
For more information about Parenting Now!’s parenting groups, drop-in playtimes, Baby Connection, car seat clinics and more, visit parentingnow.org.