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7 benefits of parenting classes and where to find them

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Whether you’re going through a divorce, need to satisfy a court order, or you just want to become a better mom, dad or caregiver, parenting classes can help you build a healthier relationship with your children.

Christina Puterbaugh, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Reston, Va., says it’s important to understand that parenting classes are not for “bad parents.”

“They are often for parents who simply want to make sure they’re doing the best they can for their children,” she says.

Finding the right parenting class — one that fulfills any requirements and fits into your schedule — might seem like a tall order. But there are more flexible and accessible options for parenting classes than ever before.

Keep reading to learn more benefits of taking a parenting class and how to find one that works for you: 

What are parenting classes?

Parenting classes are designed to help you provide a healthy physical and emotional environment for your children. 

In some cases, you might be required to take a parenting class by child and youth support services or some other state department. When it comes to divorce and family court, many courts require parenting classes, particularly those that focus on co-parenting after divorce or when parents live separately. 

Even if you aren’t required to take a parenting class, it still can be worthwhile to learn  about child development, and discover effective tools and techniques for raising children to be resilient.

7 benefits of parenting classes

Parenting classes can improve the way you interact with your children. If you’re going through a divorce, they can also help you navigate co-parenting with your former spouse.

Here are 7 benefits of taking parenting classes:

1. Build a closer bond with your children

Parenting classes can help you learn to actively listen to your children’s concerns, tune in to their needs, and maximize the time you spend together, especially if you don’t live with your children full-time. 

“Children don’t come with a handbook, and research is constantly helping us learn how to interact with our children better,” says Dr. Sarah Kendrick, a licensed clinical psychologist with Thriveworks in San Francisco

2. Manage conflict

If you struggle to control your anger or don’t know how to respond when your kids act out, parenting classes can help you learn and practice conflict resolution skills. Likewise, if you’re co-parenting with an ex, learning to manage conflict can reduce your stress and show your children what healthy conflict resolution looks like. 

“The children then can, in turn, learn to manage conflict effectively themselves,” Puterbaugh says. 

Parenting classes can help you identify and address unhealthy parenting habits, including these common toxic parenting signs

“Learning what things can be harmful to a child's development allows you to modify your behavior to parent more effectively,” Kendrick says. 

4. Learn a new parenting style

We often base our parenting style on how we were raised — or in opposition to the way we were raised. Learning about different parenting styles can help you fine-tune the way you communicate, discipline, and relate to your children. 

But no matter the parenting style, children benefit from parents being on the same page, Puterbaugh says. 

“Often, children are skilled at splitting, or going to the parent with whom they believe is going to either side with them or give them what they want,” Puterbaugh says. 

She says parenting classes can help parents get on the same page and raise their children with a more consistent, intentional way.

5. Communicate more effectively

Research published in Frontiers in Psychology found that efforts to improve the quality of parent-child communication may actually improve a child’s academic success. 

Parenting classes can teach you how to better listen to and communicate effectively to better connect with your child. 

6. Craft a new family routine

Family dynamics are constantly changing — perhaps with a breakup, birth of a child, death of a parent, relocation, or a long-distance work assignment — parenting classes can help you navigate a new normal.

“Anytime you implement new skills, you have the ability to create a family routine that makes space for a new family dynamic,” Kendrick says.

7. Become a successful co-parent

Parenting classes are required in some states as part of the divorce process, and they can give you the tools you need to successfully co-parent with your kids’ other parent, even if you’re dealing with a narcissist or you prefer to follow a parallel parenting plan

You might also want to consider a parenting class before you file for divorce:

When should you start parenting classes?

It can help to start parenting classes at any point in the parenting journey. However, the earlier you start learning the tools and techniques for better parenting, the more likely you are to be an effective parent. 

Additionally, if you know you’re going to be getting divorced, it can help to enroll in a co-parenting class as soon as possible to begin working on the new family dynamic.

Reasons to take a parenting class include:

  • You're a new parent and feel clueless
  • You're going through a divorce or breakup
  • You have a very difficult child or violent home
  • You're required to take court-ordered parenting or co-parenting classes
  • You are seeking a parenting course for autism, teenagers or another special need
  • Anger management is an issue
  • You just want to be a more confident mom or dad

What do you do in parenting classes?

That depends on the type of parenting classes you’re taking and whether you take them online or in person. Court-mandated parenting classes must meet certain criteria set forth by each state, which may include taking a final exam and receiving a certificate of completion.

Parenting classes often provide insight into child development as well as offering tools and techniques for providing a supportive emotional environment. Parenting classes also often focus on ways for you to manage your own emotions and response.

Parenting classes may include lectures, interaction with the teacher and other students, role-playing, watching educational videos, some writing assignments and other ways of learning.

For example, court-approved parenting class provider Online Parenting Programs offers several types of online classes, including those on: 

  • Co-parenting divorce class – Covers family dynamics, changes in family structures and their effect on children, common parenting mistakes, shared parenting tips, advice on co-parenting mediation and crafting a parenting plan
  • High-conflict co-parenting class – Teaches you how to cope with stress/manage emotions, solve co-parenting issues, and avoid extreme behaviors that can negatively impact your child
  • Parenting skills class – Helps parents with child development, sleep issues, nighttime fears, potty training, self-esteem, socialization, child care, discipline, health, raising children with disabilities, and parental resources
  • High-risk parenting skills class – Class tackles topics like abuse/neglect, juvenile justice, relatives caring for children, partner violence, complex family situations and helps children understand the needs of their children as they grow

Use code WSM20 to save $20 on Online Parenting Programs classes  >>

What should you look for in a parenting class?

A parenting class should have some online reputation — via BBB, Trustpilot, Google or other site. Also look for credentials from the instructor, such as being a therapist or counselor or social worker. Look for designations like: 

  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) 
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) 
  • Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) 
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor of Mental Health (LPCC)

If needed, make sure the parenting class will satisfy any court-ordered requirements. 

Here are our top recommendations: 


Court-ordered parenting classes: OnlineParentingPrograms.com

Parenting classes for all families: PositiveParentingSolutions.com
Why we like this website:*Courses for specific needs, including co-parenting, high-conflict, teens and more*Court-order certificates*Accessible and affordable pricing*Financial assistance availableWhy we like this website:*Hundreds of positive user reviews and accolades from media outlets*Practical advice based in discipline research*Video, written and audio tools
Save $20 on Online Parenting Programs classes using code WSM20 >>FREE 60-minute class followed by a live Q&A with Amy >>

What do you learn in parenting classes?

In general, you gain access to knowledge, tools and resources designed to help you create a home environment and family relationships that enhance the wellbeing of children and parents. You can learn how to control your anger and other feelings, discipline techniques, how to better co-parent with your child's mom or dad and how to create routines and schedules for your family.

How long do parenting classes last?

Parenting classes can last anywhere from two hours to several weeks, depending on the course you choose. Some court-ordered parenting classes can be completed in several hours online, as long as it meets the requirements of the court. Other parenting classes last 6 to 12 weeks, and include coaching and counseling.

Are parenting classes effective?

Research published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice reviewed six studies of parenting classes, ranging from the study of newborns to teenagers, and found that parenting classes have the potential to create a calmer home environment and better outcomes for children, as well as the parents, co-parenting relationships, and overall family and household wellbeing.

A definitive list of 7 co-parenting boundaries you need to know

How much money do parenting classes cost?

Parenting classes range in cost, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. There are free online parenting classes, as well as free in-person parenting classes provided by state agencies and nonprofits. However, you might have to pay anywhere between $25 and more than $200 for parenting classes that offer different tools and resources. 

If you need to find court-approved parenting classes that cost money, there might be some financial assistance available.

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Which states require parent education classes in divorce?

Some states require families going through divorce or family court to take parenting classes in an effort to reduce conflict and better co-parenting relationships

These states require all divorcing parents to attend parenting classes:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Virginia require parents filing a contested divorce to attend a parenting class.

Court-monitored communication? Get a co-parenting app

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Bottom line: Are parenting classes worth it?

Parenting classes benefit adults and children by providing direction to parents when it comes to creating healthy physical and emotional environments. According to a research review of different parenting programs, parenting classes can help children with behavioral and emotional adjustment, as well as contribute to parental wellbeing.

Plus, even great parents can learn something new — after all, Tiger Woods has a swing coach!

When you do online parenting classes, you have the advantage of completing the work at your own pace and reviewing information you missed the first time. On the other hand, you might not get the same level of in-person support with online parenting classes that you’d get with parenting classes near you.

However, with in-person classes, you might not be able to work around a difficult schedule since you need to be present at a specific time and plan for transportation to the class. Attending in-person classes can also be an embarrassing experience, especially if you run into someone you know.

Regardless, parenting classes can be beneficial for many families open to growing and changing.

What are parenting classes?

Parenting classes are designed to help you provide a healthy physical and emotional environment for your children.

When should you start parenting classes?

It can help to start parenting classes at any point in the parenting journey. However, the earlier you start learning the tools and techniques for better parenting, the more likely you are to be an effective parent.

What do you do in parenting classes?

Parenting classes may include lectures, interaction with the teacher and other students, role-playing, watching educational videos, some writing assignments and other ways of learning.

What do you learn in parenting classes?

In general, you gain access to knowledge, tools and resources designed to help you create a home environment and family relationships that enhance the wellbeing of children and parents. You can learn how to control your anger and other feelings, discipline techniques, how to better co-parent with your child's mom or dad and how to create routines and schedules for your family.

How long do parenting classes last?

Parenting classes can last anywhere from two hours to several weeks, depending on the course you choose. Some court-ordered parenting classes can be completed in several hours online, as long as it meets the requirements of the court. Other parenting classes last 6 to 12 weeks, and include coaching and counseling.

How much money do parenting classes cost?

Parenting classes range in cost, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. There are free online parenting classes, as well as free in-person parenting classes provided by state agencies and nonprofits. However, you might have to pay anywhere between $25 and more than $200 for parenting classes that offer different tools and resources.

Are parenting classes worth it?

Parenting classes benefit adults and children by providing direction to parents when it comes to creating healthy physical and emotional environments. According to a research review of different parenting programs, parenting classes can help children with behavioral and emotional adjustment, as well as contribute to parental wellbeing.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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