Parenting education is one of the building blocks of a strong community. In observance of the positive impact of parenting education, Gov. Kitzhaber signed a proclamation declaring May 19-25 as Oregon Parenting Education Week.
This is a good moment to look at the impact of learning to parent effectively.
Much data shows that parenting education works:
- Readiness for kindergarten is enhanced when parents learn how they can support their child’s healthy development.
- Parenting education helps prevent child abuse and neglect, and associated concerns like teen pregnancy, delinquency and substance abuse.
“It has been wonderful to hear new ideas and advice.”
“We got so much useful information from our parent educator and other parents. It gave me a lot of tools to help raise my son.”
“A highlight was sharing with other parents and talking about our lives.”
“My wife had to drag me to the meetings in the beginning. I now look forward to the next meeting as soon as I’m out the door from the last meeting.”
“I learned that I am not alone. I do belong and have a community to help me. Now I can step back, count to 10, take 3 deep breaths instead of yell at my child. I will finish high school and our daughter will have a good life.”
One of our exercises makes the point that parenting is a lifelong commitment. Parents are told to imagine their child as a young adult leaving home. The parent educator then asks, “What kinds of experiences, skills and values do you want to pack in your child’s suitcase when they move out into the world?”
This exercise is a powerful reminder to parents that their day-to-day actions and interactions with their child are the ways they are packing their child’s suitcase. It helps them to be more thoughtful about how to line these things up with what they want their child to experience, remember and learn.
One parent says, “With many life decisions my husband and I have had to make, I always think of [the suitcase exercise]. Our experience in the group had a huge impact on all of our lives.”
Parenting education supplies the foundation that families need to raise children who are healthy, happy adults. “Of all the things that influence a child’s growth and development, the most critical is reliable, response and sensitive parenting,” says Denise Rennekamp, MS, Parenting Education Program Coordinator in the College Of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. “Effective parenting education programs have been linked with decreased rates of child abuse and neglect; better physical, cognitive and emotional development in children; and increased parental knowledge of child development and parenting skills.”
Oregon has much to celebrate during Parenting Education Week. We live in a community and state that values parents and children, and supports programs for them.
Numerous local parenting programs, events and support groups are available this week and in the future. Visit the LaneKids website (http://www.lanekids.org) or call Parenting Now!’s Parent HelpLine (541-485-5211).
As attorney Gerry Gaydos says, “Good parenting is the greatest gift we can give to the next generation.”
Minalee Saks was the executive director of Parenting Now!, formerly Birth To Three, when she wrote this article. More information is available on this website, Facebook at Parenting Now or by calling 541-484-5316. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer. Parenting Now! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families through parent support and education.