Organizations that Can Help Parents Learn to Be Better Parents
It's one of the heaviest responsibilities an adult can bear and, oftentimes, one of the most thankless as well. While many men and women are getting married later in life (in their thirties rather in their twenties) at least in the urban areas, the fact that they're tying the knot at all indicates that they still want to raise a family together. However, having kids at a slightly more mature age is no guarantee that both Mom and Dad will already possess the skills set they need to be the best possible parents to their children from the get-go.
This is the main reason why there are groups out there to assist parents. Organizations that can help parents learn to be better parents in various aspects of their family life. At the federal and state levels of the government, there are agencies that manage or fund parenting skills programs. For example, Parents As Teachers (PAT), a non-profit whose member-educators make monthly visits to families in their homes to teach parents, among other things, games and activities that are developmentally appropriate for their children. Their program is available in all fifty states and serves all children, regardless of demographic or economic conditions.
Or the Strengthening Families program which imparts family skills training to high-risk families and whose aim is to prevent delinquency and substance abuse as well as to improve the school performance of children and teens living in selected neighborhoods.
Head Start is a school readiness program for children from low-income families. Since its creation in 1965, the program has served about 25 million preschool-aged kids and their families.
There's also the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) which has conducted and supported research in parenting and child development for over three decades. After talking to experts, parents and children, and collecting statistics, identifying myths and testing various suggestions, the NICHD recently launched a no-frills approach to parenting dubbed as RPM3. Issued in booklet form with the title "Adventures in Parenting", RPM3 stands for Responding, Preventing, Monitoring, Mentoring, and Modeling, and summarizes 30 years of the Institute's research to inform the reader about what really works in parenting.
There are also numerous organizations that can help parents learn to be better parents to children with special needs. Whether it's ADD, autism, down syndrome or any other kind of disability, there are Parent Support and Advocacy Organizations in practically every state ready to help in tried and tested ways.
Various states also have a variation of the Organization of Parent Education Programs for their respective community and technical colleges. Such groups realize that parents are their children's first and most important teachers. These groups follow through on the research that children whose parents are involved in their education and learning are more successful in school, and that early childhood programs involving both parents and children are more effective than those focused exclusively on children, among other insights.
There are just as many organizations that can help parents learn to be better parents to gifted children throughout the country. There are groups named Parents for Gifted Education, community parent groups, associations for gifted children and umbrella organizations for parents of gifted children. There are also MENSA chapters in key cities all over the U.S. which support gifted children's groups, among other advocacies.
Just like the NICHD mentioned earlier, practically everyone involved in parenting and child rearing now agree that the best approach for Mom and Dad to be better parents is to apply common sense. According to the U.S. Department of Education, parental involvement in children's upbringing and education is one of the best investments they can make. Research has shown that such involvement has improved their kids' grades and test scores, made them graduate from high school at higher rates (and earn, on average, $200,000 more in their lifetimes than if they dropped out), made them more likely to go on to college or university (and proceed to make almost $1 million more in their lifetimes than if they didn't), and are better behaved and have more positive attitudes throughout life.