Friday, March 1, 2013

Show Your Community You Care . . . Offer Free Parenting Classes!

Have you ever "skipped" church to drive on the streets surrounding your church building to get an idea of how many people in your neighborhood do not attend your church? Who are they? Where do they live? Are there children riding their bikes and playing in their yards? Clearly if they live on the streets around your church, they must know your church is there, so how do we show these families in our communities we really care about them?

There are many ways to show, really show you care about others, but one way is to help equip parents. I truly believe parents - whether they are church parents or not - care about their children. Often parenting can be very overwhelming . . . children do not come with "instructions" attached to them, so it can be very easy for parents to feel "lost" and at a total loss as to how to parent their children. Consider the following ideas as ways to reach out to these parents in your community -
    Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years
  • offer free new parent classes . . . you could get a nurse to come in and show new moms and dads how to bathe their child, change diapers, feed them, what to look for when they run a fever and when to call the doctor. Talk about how to find affordable clothes, offer resources and show you care by answering their "how do I . . ." questions. Provide refreshments and consider involving ladies in your church in crocheting/knitting booties and/or blankets to give new parents in your community as a gift. Just be a support and encourage them!
  • offer free classes for parents of toddlers . . . provide a Q & A time - ask "experienced" parents from your church who were able to raise their children and do it well to be part of your "expert" panel. Provide resources on child discipline - I especially love the approach of Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood - and provide encouragement for things like potty training and how to stop tantrums! Just giving these parents the opportunity to talk is sure to be greatly appreciated! Again, provide refreshments and consider giving each family a book to share with their child - I especially love the Jesus Storybook Bible
  • offer free classes for parents of school age children . . . again, a Q & A time is sure to be appreciated, but focus on things like how to be careful not to over-schedule their kids and how to help children with homework - I especially love the book The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make - it would make a great book to work through and what parent doesn't want to know about the 10 best decisions they can make?!! If you have any church members who are school teachers, get them to come in and share with parents how to help their child stay focused and do their best at school. Address issues related to bullying or being bullied and things for parents to watch for. Offer help for families experiencing divorce and be ready to refer families to those who can help them with serious needs/problems. Be sure the coffee pot is full and provide refreshments to create an atmosphere where parents feel comfortable opening up with their questions.
The most important thing is to open the doors for communication and to show you care. Allow parents to come with "no strings attached" - don't "preach" to them. Let your actions speak louder than your words - show them you care and they are welcome at your church!

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