Good for you -- you want to be a professional parent and not one who just operates from instinct or mood. Or, possibly, your local social services department or court has ordered you to take a parenting course if you want to retain custody of your children. Aside from guidance regarding how to react to a plethora of child-raising dilemmas, you'll receive tips and ways to view common childhood behaviors, which may cut down on the number of problems that arise in your house. Other bonuses are that when you hear from other parents what they deal with you'll realize that your children are normal and their behavior is within average range, and you may become friends with parents in the class. Parenting classes are offered for new parents, parents of young children, and parents of teenagers, and these classes teach skills that result in more effective parenting and that can decrease conflicts in the home.

You can ask your pediatrician for a referral to parenting classes, or see if your community health center has any listings. Local hospitals sometimes give first aid classes for parents and some support groups also offer parenting classes. Your church or synagogue may offer parenting classes on their premises and sometimes schools sponsor parenting classes, as well. Some courses are free, but others require a financial commitment, either on a pay-by-class basis or a pay-up-front deal for the entire series of classes. If workbooks or manuals are offered for sale along with the course, they're usually a good investment, as they help you review what you learned in the class. You can look online for parenting classes in your vicinity or if it's hard for you to get out, you can sign up for an online parenting course.

Before you sign up for a course, find out who's giving it and what qualifications the instructor has. Find out if the court or social services division will accept the course to fulfill your requirement to take parenting classes and whether the judge or probation officer can contact the instructor if there are any questions.