Posted by: Angela | November 8, 2006

Parenting classes, why do I bother?

I always reach this point whenever I attend a class that is intended to improve significant relationships in my life. You know which ones I am talking about, parenting classes, marriage seminars, setting boundaries with the difficult people in your life so on and so forth. I get about half way through them and I start thinking I have heard this all before and maybe I am okay with the way I am conducting said relationship. But then I am left with this dilemma, how do you drop out of a class that is suppose to improve your life especially at church?

It isn’t that the information in the class is not useful. To be honest, this is probably the best parenting class I have been to. It isn’t rule based, the teacher has been a marriage and family counselor for years, he admits he hasn’t always gotten it right and he doesn’t have all the answers. He advocates self care for parents, an idea that I am a fan (for very selfish and some not so selfish reasons). But still I have reached that place when I’m saying, I’ve heard this and listing off books and articles and classes and friends’ advice in my head. I love the idea of collaborating with other parents, to hear their ideas and thoughts, I really do.

I don’t struggle with the job of parenting another human being as much as I struggle with being a parent in the first place. What these classes always bring up in me is that struggle. I thought plenty about skills and the job of parenting long before I was a parent. I came into adulthood feeling as if I had already done parenting with my brothers. I didn’t really parent them, I just helped with a lot of the work associated with having children, laundry, cooking, picking up, playing with etc. But that doesn’t change how I felt at twentysomething. I thought about being a stay at home parent and discussed it with my husband early in our relationship. We decided it was important to us and one of us would stay home; so that is what we did as a family. But it is one thing to decide to be a stay at home parent or parent at all as the backup plan in case you have a child. It is very different to have that child and have to carry out the backup plan for the rest of your life.

Maybe that’s it…I am living the backup plan. Who plans on living the backup plan? You just have a backup plan to be safe. You don’t go into anything saying I have Plan A but really I want to live Plan B. Actually parenthood is something like Plan G for us.

Never once have I heard it discussed in any parenting class, Plan G…It is always assumed that it was deliberate decision or at least change in direction you have made peace with. Why else would you be in a parenting class? Who takes a parenting class when they don’t want to parent? Really how crazy is that? Well, now you know, I am crazy and a lousy parent.



  1. You are not a lousy parent, I think we all feel that way. I walk around thinking “How did I get here?” much of my day, and I knew I wanted kids and to stay home with them. Or at least I thought I did :-).

    Hang in there…

  2. In a way we’re all living Plan B, I think. I thought I’d have 3 or 4 kids and be a stay at home mom, but that’s not how it worked out. During the five years that I waited for kids to come, I stayed in grad school, and now, well my life looks so much different than I ever thought. But, you know, that’s part of the fun of it. You have experiences that you never thought you’d have, and in the end your life looks like it was supposed to. At least that’s what I tell myself :-).

  3. Thank you for your honesty! I felt a tinge of relief as I read your article, being a “new” mom of a 15-month-old “spirited” little man . . . he was not so much planned, but absolutely wanted, and I made many decisions and estimations of how I wanted life to look as it progressed after his birth (much to the empathetic amusement of my friends who had gone on before me) . . . now life is a matter of just getting through each moment most days, and flying by the seat of my pants in almost every situation – my biggest problems are: I read and have read too much about everything which gets in the way of everyday life; and, I argue with reality. Most of the time I think I am a terrible parent, but if I have a lucid moment and am able to step back and look at the reality of my life objectively, I am most likely the perfect candidate for this job. Unfortunately for me, I have old tapes that continuously play over and over in my head, comparing me to all other moms out there whose kids do this and that early, say a billion different words, don’t act agressively towards other little children, and are being recruited for MENSA. I realized that before I had my son, I believed I knew who I was unswervingly . . . now, under the influence of many months of sleep deprivation and constant hormonal fluctuations, I have to live it, and to my surprise, I have found myself disturbingly double-minded about many things. So much for conviction. After my ranting, I guess I just wanted to say, I appreciate hearing other moms question and be introspective. I do the same, much to the chagrin of my own mom and other young moms who seem to know beyond a shadow of a doubt the answers to almost everything, and that, I suppose, should be more unsettling than anything, but I do tend to be deceived into thinking that that is that way I am supposed to be, and the whole cycle of thoughts begins its relentless spin yet again! Anyhow, thanks for letting me cut loose on a rant. I look forward to visiting your site again.

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