It’s often said that children don’t come with an instruction manual. Many parents find themselves struggling at some point while raising their children, and they look for help from professionals. Some parents may be required by the court to get help with their parenting skills, or to attend a parenting education seminar if they are in the process of divorcing. If you need help with a difficult parenting challenge, a certified parent educator can be a valuable resource. Depending on the circumstances, a certified parent educator may meet individually with parents or may conduct group sessions or workshops.
If you are required to have parenting education by the court, the judge should be able to provide you with a referral to a certified parent educator. Try to get more than one name so you can compare and find someone who meets your needs. If you receive services from a social services agency, or are parenting a foster child, those organizations may be able to offer suggestions as well.
When calling the people or organizations you have identified, be specific about your situation. Tell them about your children, including their ages; the specific difficulty you are having, such as discipline, setting limits, sibling rivalry, etc.; and your specific situation, including who is in the family unit and any other relevant issues. Ask when and where group sessions or workshops are held. If you are looking for a personal coach, ask if they will travel to your home.
Ask about each person’s credentials. There are a number of educational institutions that offer certificates in parenting education. Most of them require 15 to 16 hours of coursework at the graduate level. This means a certified parent educator will usually have a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology or some related field, plus a certificate in parenting education. As an example, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire offers a 15-credit-hour Parenting Education Certificate program, and the University of Minnesota offers a 16-credit-hour Family Education Graduate Certificate program.
Once you have researched and contacted several providers, you will probably find one or more who will meet your needs. At that point, consider whether an individual consultation, group session, workshop or online program will be best for you. If your participation is court-ordered, be sure the program you like will meet the court’s requirements.
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