I vote "YES" for Parenting Classes

family photograph from 1999
My children in 1999
There was never, ever a moment that I thought I would agree with a Tory Prime Minister's proposal but, hey, I'm also not afraid to speak up about it either.  And this is only "in theory" at the moment.

*holds hand up* I attended parenting classes. Twice.  Not because I felt the first time was crap but because they were offered to me due to my circumstances at the time.  And, yes, I do feel as though I benefited greatly from them.

I was brought up in a traditional family setting - my dad had a good job, mum stayed at home, we had holidays every year, I was well provided for and I had a good education.  I had a job and a career vision.  I still got pregnant at age eighteen.

I was a fucking fantastic babysitter but that was always because there was an end in sight.  Motherhood never came naturally to me.  Of course, I knew that I was responsible for the provision and nurture of my child/ren and I'd fight to the death for them but no-one ever told me how to cope with the day-to-day stuff.  I could foresee this never-ending crap until the end of my days and I yearned for a break.  I could follow the amazing examples of my own mother and grandmothers but when you're a new parent - and you have chosen to be in that situation - you don't really want to take advice from too many people.  You know you can conquer every mountain that is put in front of you and anyone telling you how to climb that mountain in an alternative way knows shite all.

The world has changed.  Not everyone lives near supportive family.  Hell, not everyone has a supportive family.  Existing family dynamics have changed (even in my own family, after a role-swap of responsibilities).  It constantly feels that there is more month than money and there's no way out.  Parenting classes will never fix that but they will help parents (young, old, new) to learn skills that are attributed to parenting.  I learnt about budgeting, different ways to pay the bills, how to raise my child so that they respected me, how to spot certain ailments and many more non-natural activities that form the role of being a parent.  I also found out how to access training experiences and improved many other skills in other areas.  The classes gave me confidence.

It is far too easy to presume that all advice can come from existing experience, books and the internet (and I say that as a total social media whore).  Barriers to learning are in place already if your own upbringing wasn't secure or stable, if reading isn't your strong point or if you simply cannot afford a broadband package or the latest smart phone.  Parenting classes opened other doors and avenues for me that may not have been available if I hadn't attended.  I met some other parents who remain friends today, over 15 years later.

I truly admire anyone to whom parenting comes naturally.  It's been a constant learning curve for me and continues to be so, especially after becoming a grandparent at such a young age (although, maybe that was inevitable?).  I'd go back to parenting classes in a heartbeat because, even after 21 years, I still feel as though I have more to learn.

Want to hear an alternative view?  Go and read Natasha's post on the subject.  She has some really good points to make.