Local program to help families with parenting challenges

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 12, 2020

This story has been updated to reflect a schedule change.

Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ is offering free parenting classes for parents and caregivers after receiving a $62,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Human Services to fund the program.

The program, called Family Dynamics—Parenthood Initiatives, will offer free parenting classes for all Pearl River County families, including custodial and non-custodial parents, foster parents, teens, relative caregivers and grandparents.

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“It’s always good to learn new tools and skills that can help you along the way and connect with other parents,” said Program Director Toni Watts. “Sometimes we feel isolated. You may be going through something, and you feel like you’re alone, but when you’re connecting with peers in a networking type of situation, we learn from each other.”

The classes will focus on topics like communication, understanding children’s emotions or behaviors, how trauma may affect a child and what expectant parents can look forward to, said Watts.

The program will also focus on fatherhood with monthly group sessions where men of all ages can meet to discuss the impact of fatherhood in their lives and on the community, said Watts.

“There are a lot of families that are single family heads of household, and we know that having men involved in children’s lives just benefits the family or the whole community, so it’s one of the things that we wanted to focus on,” said Watts. “We’re really looking at parenting skills and a lot of times fathers are left out of that, because we look at mothers as the parent.”

Along with teaching valuable parenting skills, the classes can be used to fulfill court mandated parenting class requirements. Participants will receive certificates for completion of a parenting class. The classes will use active parenting curriculum and a series called Right from Birth, which are approved by the courts, said Watts. Classes are scheduled for February and future class times will be determined based on the needs of parents in the community, said Watts.

The round of classes will end on Sept. 30, and then the church will reapply for funding and look for additional resources to support the community’s needs, said Watts.

The first fatherhood round table discussion was held Tuesday night. The first parent class will be held in two parts: on Saturday Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. and Friday Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. to 8 p.m and Saturday Feb. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ Family Resource Center, 500 North Beech St. Participants are welcome to just show up or call Watts at 601-215-4949 for more information.