What Benefits Can You Get From Parenting Classes?

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated March 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Being a parent or caregiver for a child can be both difficult and rewarding. There are many different challenges you may face as your children grow up, and getting support before you begin and/or along the way can make a significant difference. If you’re interested in benefiting from the wisdom and lessons learned by other parents and the takeaways gained by researchers and other experts, parenting classes may be worth considering. Read on to learn about what parenting classes are, what types may be available, and what kinds of benefits they can offer.

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What are parenting classes?

Parenting classes are intended to provide training and education to parents in order to help them improve their knowledge and skills related to caring for and raising a child. There are many different types of parenting classes available. Some are intended to help participants learn how to handle certain, specific issues, while others are centered on a certain phase of life, such as infant care. Others might relate to a certain parenting style in particular, or could be linked to certain cultural or religious modes of upbringing. Still others are primarily intended to create a support network of parents who can lean on each other. 

The general goal of these educational opportunities is to provide support and guidance to parents, and to divulge information that can help them decide how best to care for and connect to their children. They’re not just for parents who are having a difficult time or are seeking specific guidance, either. Virtually all parents and caregivers are likely to be able to benefit from classes to expand their skills and support networks, and seeking them out can suggest a dedication to their child’s well-being. Research points to the efficacy of parenting classes as well.

One study suggests that parenting classes are effective at improving parenting skills. Another suggests that they can also lead to long-term benefits even after the class has ended.

Types of parenting classes

Parenting classes may be offered through hospitals, pediatricians’ offices, community centers, and social service facilities, and countless options can also be found online. Classes may be more general, or may cater specifically to certain groups, such as:

  • Soon-to-be parents

  • First-time parents of newborns

  • Parents of children with behavioral or developmental issues

  • Parents who want to learn new skills

  • Parents who are having trouble connecting with their older children

  • Current or soon-to-be foster or adoptive parents hoping to build strong connections with their child

  • People who commonly care for a child, like grandparents, other relatives, etc. 

Many specialized classes also exist to help parents with specific challenges, such as supporting gifted children, managing the effects of developmental disabilities, or handling medical difficulties. From co-parenting after divorce to parenting as an LGBTQ+ couple to fostering or adopting and everything in between—there’s likely a class for that. If your local community doesn’t provide the type of class you want, you might consider taking an online course to meet your needs.  

When choosing a parenting class, a good rule of thumb is to start by looking for those that are geared toward parents with children who are the same age as your child. A course on newborns isn’t going to offer much helpful information to the parent of a teenager, for instance. Once you find classes appropriate for your child’s age and developmental stage, you can narrow the list by factoring in elements such as any relevant diagnoses, what you want to learn, and your current or desired parenting style compared to the instructor’s, for instance.

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Potential benefits of parenting classes

There are a wide range of potential benefits that parents and caregivers can gain from taking parenting classes from a reputable organization. For one, “Parent education reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect by encouraging positive parenting practices that promote safety, well-being, and permanency for children and families”. Other benefits may include:

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

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  • Learning about parenting philosophies and deciding which may be best for your family

  • Building a happier, healthier family dynamic

  • Finding out how to correct harmful or counterproductive parenting practices

  • Discovering practical coping skills to help you positively manage the stress and frustration that can come with parenting

  • Gaining a support network of others who understand the challenges of parenting

  • Learning to facilitate difficult conversations with your children

  • Becoming aware of key developmental stages for children so you know what to expect and when to seek help

  • Elevating your problem-solving abilities with creative approaches to parenting situations

It’s worth emphasizing that the potential benefits of parenting classes aren’t strictly limited to learning new parenting techniques. They can also provide valuable forms of support for parents and caregivers as they navigate the challenges of their role. Parenting can often make people feel isolated, as if they’re the only ones experiencing a particular issue. However, classes are one way to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and they can help you learn to manage your own health and wellness as you embark or continue on the adventure of parenting.

How therapy can be helpful for parents

There are many different ways in which a parent or caregiver may look to improve their skills and get support. Parenting books, blogs, podcasts, and parenting social or support groups are all options to consider in addition to parenting classes. Some parents may also choose to speak with a therapist for expert guidance in managing the challenges they may be facing. They can help you learn how to improve communication skills to better connect with your partner and/or child and discover coping strategies to manage stress, for instance. 

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Do you want to learn ways to be a better parent?

Many parents have busy schedules and may find it difficult to attend in-person therapy sessions, or they may have trouble locating a therapist in their area with the parenting-related experience or expertise they need. Online therapy is another option to consider for caregivers in situations like these. With a virtual counseling platform like BetterHelp, for example, individuals can gain contact to a wide range of diverse providers. Once matched, they can speak with them via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging to address the challenges they may be facing. Research suggests that online therapy may offer similar benefits to in-person sessions in most cases, which means you can typically choose the format that works best for you.

Takeaway

Seeking expert advice and social support can be beneficial for individuals who are parents or caregivers for children of any age. The information outlined in this article may make it easier to see the potential benefits of taking parenting classes, including building new skills and resources for parenting, learning to manage stress, and discovering new ways to be a healthy, positive influence on your kids.
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