Ask the Parent Coach: Jennifer Watanabe


YES - Parenting ClassesQ: Help! I know I could use some help with my kids, but I am afraid to let other people know that I can’t manage them the way that I think I should. I would be really embarrassed to attend a parenting class. Aren’t those classes for people who are in trouble with Child Protective Services?

A: Thank you for asking this question! Sometimes parents feel that taking a parenting class would be like being sent to the principal’s office — that if they go to a class they will be made to feel bad for not parenting the “right way,” or they fear that they will be publicly reprimanded or humiliated.

This does not happen in parenting classes that are based upon mutual respect. Actually, parents tend to experience a caring, nurturing environment where they are encouraged to build their parenting skills. The hope is that with better skills the family will function better, and all relationships will feel more loving.

Why do parents take a parenting class, anyway? Sometimes parents are choosing to parent in a way that is different than how they were parented. Other times parents recognize that parenting today is different than it was a generation ago. Many parents recognize that there is not a roadmap for parenting well.

Here are just some of the things parents can learn and discover when they participate in parenting classes:

  • How to respond instead of react;
  • How to be kind and firm at the same time;
  • How to foster a calmer and happier family dynamic, with less yelling;
  • The best way is to work with children to find solutions;
  • To remain calmer as a parent;
  • To discover a new language to more effectively communicate;
  • To gain a better understanding of children;
  • To improved relationships between the parents and the children.

We are fortunate to live in a community that offers many options for parenting classes, and I would truly encourage parents who are struggling to sign up. Even parents who feel everything comes easy will learn helpful tips and tidbits.

Personally, my husband and I started taking parenting classes as well as participating in parent and child programs when our oldest child was two weeks old. That was 19 years ago! We love the opportunity to learn better ways to interact with our boys, who are now 19 and 15. We have met wonderful, caring parents who have the same questions and the same desire to raise children well. I am still taking parenting classes — and I’m still learning and growing as a parent. Put simply: Parenting classes provide parents the time to focus on the most important relationships in their lives!

Additional resources


Jennifer WatanabeJennifer Watanabe is the parent coach at Youth Eastside Services (YES). She teaches Positive Discipline classes and provides individual parent coaching. As a Certified Parent Coach, she has vast experience teaching parenting classes, using research-based information on child development, temperament, discipline, and emotion management. She specializes in helping parents who are longing for a better relationship with their children and who need a more effective way to discipline. Perhaps most importantly, Jennifer understands first-hand the issues parents face in our community.

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