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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Often times, the most important things don’t come with instruction manuals: buying your first house, raising children, correcting your boss. In the age of the Internet, there are endless resources, countless voices, and infinite opinions who are ready to pitch their two cents in on how you go about your life. While that may be helpful for finding the right loan for you, it can be a little offensive when it comes to parenting.

Remember those birthing classes you heard all about when you were waiting on your little bundle of joy to get here? There are classes similar to those that are aimed to help you decide how you are most comfortable dealing with temper-tantrums, sleepless nights, and picky-eaters, among other things.

Suggestions for Questions
Keep in mind, these classes aren’t meant to tell you how to parent; just like birthing classes provided you with all the available options for birth, parenting classes provide a lengthy list of choices. They are taught by instructors well-versed in parenthood, and is designed to be a realm of healthy discussion for parents.

Are you unsure or uncomfortable bathing your newborn baby? Classes for newborns cover methods to help, and include helpful tips on changing, feeding, and emergency care. If your baby is older and you’re wondering how you could possibly get them to eat their vegetables, there are classes to address that. Even if your precious angel is entering puberty and you’re unsure if their attitude is to be expected or not, there’s a class for that.

It’s true that most of you will have overeager family members who would be more than happy to help you by telling you how they handled the situation. While this can be helpful, it can also be harmful: as you listen to their advice, remember that society is constantly changing. In a world of technology, you now have the option to pump breastmilk and store dirty diapers by way of a Diaper Genie. There is a new army of toys to entertain your baby with lights and sounds, which is drastically different from the cloth dolls and rattles of the pioneer days.

The challenges of navigating new-age parenthood are not meant to be faced alone: parenting classes gathers many new parents with questions and allows them to discuss and share a variety of options. Everyone needs a little extra support and guidance when trying new things, and parenting is no different.

Reaping the Benefits
In addition to getting great (usually free or low-cost) advice, you’ll be making new friends. The newborn days, full of spit-up and babble, will have you craving playdates that allow your bundle of joy to babble along with other babies. This will give you an opportunity to meet and befriend fellow parents: instead of sharing cocktails after work with your colleagues, you can easily segue into playdates at the pizzeria without the awkward solo era.

There is also an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained: with each new parent that attends a parenting class comes new information that he or she may have learned from his or her parents. You may not have thought of that car-ride activity on your own, but thank goodness Paula told you about it on Thursday’s class!

Or perhaps it’s simply time to own up to those fears, and every parent has them: how do you know you’re going to be a good mother? While some things would be difficult to tell your own mother, parenting classes are designed to explore—and expel—those fears.

Whatever the reason, check with your nearest Hospital to see what kinds of classes they offer. They just might answer a question you didn’t know you had!

About the Author: Thad Baker works with Integris Children’s Hospital and Integris Orthopedics. He writes to inform the public and educate the community about important health issues.

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