Losing our way as parents happens. Typically, it begins with the nagging doubt that we aren’t doing something quite right, but we cannot for the life of us figure out what it is. Sometimes the realization is a false alarm that is generated by and carried over from other stressors. Other times, the fog of self doubt is easily lifted by chatting with other parents, meeting with professionals or leveraging the ever-helpful Google search engine for information and tips.
But other times, we parents do come to a point where we don’t know what to do, and all of the advice, research and theory just won’t cut it. We need hands-on training.
That’s where Steve and I are now, and that’s when I know it’s time to call in the in-home parent trainer.
I do not like in-home parent trainers. I don’t dislike them; they just scare me with their common sense and practicality. In fact, it’s alwyas been my experience that our parent training is similar to the “Nanny” TV shows (except there aren’t any cameras, thank goodness). In those programs, the trainer patiently and quietly observes the family as they go through their day-today routines. The trainer then comes back to reveal parenting errors that were obvious to everyone watching, except the oblivious parents.
We know, we’ve been clueless parents, too. Some suggestions that we’ve fielded from our trainers are: ”Connor might walk better if you’d let his feet hit the ground once in awhile.” (We were carrying him too much) or “So what do you think he’s feeling right now?” (Reinforcing the idea that Connor has the right to provide input intohis own care and treatment options).
So as painful as it can be, in-home parent education is well worth the time, trouble and less-than-flattering view of ourselves as parents. But I dread it, even as nice as the trainers are, and even though the cost is covered by the State.
But wouldn’t it be even nicer if we had access to parent training on a continuous basis? I, for one, believe that the Parents as Teachers/First Steps parent education that we enjoyed when Connor was an infant should extend through at least middle school. In Missouri, the Parents as Teachers training program ends when the child begins pre-school. The trainers, usually ex-teachers who prefer to work part-time, show up at the parent’s doorstep every month or so to check on the child’s progress and to give parents useful and fun activities to assist his/her development. Now that Connor is 9, and is officially in the ‘tween’ stage, we could use that help now.