Friday, February 6, 2009

Parenting Classes

"Why are you always in parenting class?" some people have asked (who follow my facebook status updates). "Is that an agency requirement?"

No, it's actually not an agency requirement.

I'm in parenting class because I started them a couple of months ago as a pre-requisite to become a foster parent, and now I feel I should finish what I started.

Over Thanksgiving, I first told my family I was considering becoming a foster parent. This news was met with great enthusiasm and, I think, some relief ("Finally! She's normal!") It was also suggested that I may want to explore other parenting options, such as adoption and freezing eggs. I thought those were brilliant ideas.

I decided to open all three parenting doors and see what happened. I knew that which ever child walked through the first door would most likely slow down the other options or stop them completely. However, I also knew that all three of these options can take years and so to get started and not wait to do things in any particular order.

When I get motivated to do something, I can be a woman possessed. And so I got my adoption paperwork done in 4 days, got the home study done in that first week, started parenting classes, got a IVF doctor's next available appointment, etc. "Project Parenting" was ON!

Little did I know that none of the three options would take very long at all. My referral came in just over a month. Parenting classes, started in December, are now almost over. The IVF doctor said he sees no reason I couldn't conceive and to come back when I'm ready.

Theoretically, I could have a house full of kids in a matter of months. Zero to 60 in seconds flat.

Realistically, two doors have been shut.

I can't foster with an infant in the house. I chose an agency that works with "hard to place" children, and they prefer a one child per house ratio in most cases. It would be unfair to all concerned to foster one special needs child, while learning to parent an infant. And the biological option is completely out the window... unless I was to get a nanny. Which I'm not sure is a good idea. Why have more kids than you can raise yourself? Being single, I have to think about these things. There is no one else to pick them up from day care, drop them off, take them to the doctor, stay home when they are sick, etc. Just me. I think it will be challenging enough with one.

We'll see. Maybe when she is a toddler these other options can be revisited.

In the meantime, I continue to attend these parenting classes three times a week AFTER a full day of work, from 6 PM to 9PM. On a typical day, I leave my house early and arrive at work by 8 AM. I work all day at a usually frenetic pace. I leave work at 5:30 PM and instead of heading home to my poor isolated dogs and American Idol, I drive the opposite direction and arrive at class by 6PM. I try to keep my eyes open until 9PM, but many nights that is difficult.

The awful thing is, I don't think I'm learning much. They take 3 hours to teach a concept that could be learned in 20 minutes... and they strrretch it out for 3 hours. There have been a few good moments, like a great video of an adult foster child recounting his experience with the agency, but mostly it is common sense stuff. I also don't think you can learn parenting from a book. Concepts, yes. How to react to a child throwing a tantrum in Kmart.... I think you just learn by being in the situation. Parents, what do you think? can you learn this stuff from a book?

I keep thinking this is the last week of classes, but then they spring a make up class, a CPR class, etc. So now I think NEXT week will be the last week of classes. It will feel like being on vacation to only have my 40 hour week and 4 hours of student supervision to conduct!

ETA: Regarding the post below this one, I received several comments and emails informing me there has been a year long repreive, and although second hand stores will still be affected after that year, they have time now to get their act together. The people most likely to be seriously affected by the law, and at risk to be put out of business, are the thousands of small time crafters in this country that rely on their handiwork to bring in income. The "committe" who came up with this new law is made up of TWO people. Seems an awful lot of power to give just two people. (I know it has to be passed by our representatives, but honestly, how closely do you think you they read the fine print?) I'm sure they are receiving no end of flak for this, and they voted (2-0) to put it on the shelf for a year. I wonder if either will retire in the next 12 months.....


J-momma said...

LOVE the picture. that is totally something my husband would do. this was interesting for me to read because i am one of the people that teaches those parenting classes, for prospective foster families. i think the classes are absolutely necessary for people wanting to foster, at least in my state and the way i do it. many people do not understand the trauma these kids go through and how that may change their behavior. also, the legal process and working with the system are crucial components to fostering. our classes run 10 weeks and we barely squeeze everything in. i would hope people don't find them boring or overdone, i didn't when i was there, but you never know. maybe we are repetitive but we try not to be. i guess it depends on how much experience you go in with. or how much you've researched and read on your own. BUT i have heard really bad things about these classes in other states/regions. so it doesn't surprise me. i just hope i'm doing a better job. good for you for sticking with it. you never know what you might learn. :)

Single PAP said...

i took those classes too, and they were brutal. late at night after a full day's work. ugh. i hated going. i'd say about 30% of what i learned was useful, but it's true--you don't know who is there to learn and what they come with...

funny, i too looked at all options and ended up on the same path! love to hear how other singles are like me. i don't feel so alone

Tami said...

I love that picture! I have to remember to do that to Baby I when I need a babysitter! joking!!!!!!!

I also took the class and it was terrible!!!!!!!!! Boring!!!!!!!!

Kiki said...

Reagrding things you learn just from experience; I find that there are many things I ask older Moms at my lunch table (work colleagues) how they coped with. Usually they have gone through the same thing and have good suggestions. Some of it, like tantrums, you just react to on instinct. I got a reat one now, that you won't have until your daughter is older, but since he's your relative you have to ponder this one....Matthew wanted to join Cub Scouts and loves it except for wearing the uniform. Eacht ime we have a meeting to go to there is a HUGE fight, screaming, crying, begging etc. to get him to wear the uniform, especially the scarf thing around his neck. He missed last week's meeting because after an hour of trying to get him to wear it we ended up losing the battle so he got grounded and had to miss going to both the meeting and a sleepover at his friend's house that night. Somehow I don't think he'll remember what a bummer that was the next time we go through this, next Friday. Ugh! Oh, and BTW, last year he would only wear blue jeans and this year he'll only wear sweat pants (this after I bought him a whole bunch of blue jeans at a second hand sale)!

Adopting1Soon said...

I think that missing the scouts and the sleep over was an excellent "natural consequence" for not wanting to dress the part. That teaches a life lesson: "If you don't want to dress up for something important, you need to miss going to it." Makes total sense to me. Are you SURE he won't remeber missing the group next week? I bet he will....