Mommy Talks

Can “parenting” be taught?

If you use the keyword parenting in a Google News search, the list of results almost always include articles about parenting classes.

It sounds a bit weird. Sessions where parents can share and learn from each other’s experiences sounds good but I can’t imagine a “classroom” where “teachers” teach students how to become good or better parents.

In the first place, parenting is nothing similar to a one-plus-one-equals-two scenario. Parenting is not an if-then scenario either. Every parent and child is unique and, hence, every parent-child scenario will also be unique because every person’s action and reaction will vary. There is no singular formula for successful parenting. There are no ready-made answers. So how can parenting be taught?

Consider this:

“In our country, more training is required to drive a car than to become a parent,” instructor Cortney Gibson said. “While we may be the most educated parents in history, when it comes to babies, we are also the most inexperienced.”

At a recent class at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Gibson instructed six expectant mothers to jiggle a quart canning jar containing a racquetball. Then she demonstrated what can happen when a parent becomes frustrated by shaking the jar — representing an infant — so that the ball — a baby’s brain — bounced wildly inside.

“You’ve just killed your baby,” said Gibson, a newborn-care specialist. []

What kind of crap is that? It would make more sense if these classes were geared more towards helping parents become emotionally equipped with their roles. It would make more sense to pinpoint support groups (family, friends) to make parents — especially, first-time parents — understand that they need not be isolated when parenting becomes too stressful at times.

But to talk about “training” parents… how insulting, how insensitive. Such an outlook can only come from non-parents or from parents who do not know what they’re doing either. Training, my foot. What are parents — factory workers? What are children — machinery that skilled handling can take care of?

Perhaps, the real key to understanding all this crap about parenting classes is to consider the money angle. Non-profit organizations offering “training” to parents seeking more grants, non-profit organizations offering parenting classes for a fee, “experts” getting paid to conduct the training sessions, “experts” getting their parenting skills training books published…

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