Samantha Gray


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“What did I tell you?”

“Don’t make me stop this car.”

“You’ve had enough.”

“I’ll give you something to cry about.”

“Don’t make me tell you again.”

My mother used to say, “You’ve had enough dinner,” when we asked for more at the table. I told my children. There are many things I have said that make me hear my mother’s voice. In fact, it’s probably no surprise that we’re more likely to raise our children the way our parents raised us – the good ones and the bad ones.

Our parents have probably shown us very well that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We’re going to model the same for our children, and thank God it’s too much for our children. If these parenting mantras are part of your daily parenting role, we have more in common than tired, busy parents. We have in common a parenting that has not benefited from the brain science and parenting knowledge that we have today.

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So many advances have been made in childhood development to help us understand how sensitive and responsive parenting helps children thrive and gain resilience. In turn, thriving kids also make parenting easier and more fun.

This progress is a lot to unpack, but getting started with responsive parenting begins with learning to parent and preparing for parenthood. We can all learn more about parenting, and we can start anytime, no matter how old our kids are. We have an area that’s full of amazing community organizations and agencies that offer research-based courses and parenting groups that help you prepare for parenting. Many of them are free, online or in person and available day or night.

Classes and parenting groups in our community are available for pregnancy and childbirth education, breastfeeding support, infancy through preschool, dads only, grandparents parents, postpartum depression, babywearing, school success, teen parenting, and teen parenting.

In a parenting class or group, parents not only learn about child development and expectations, or proven strategies for tantrums and chores, but also find support and friendships.

It is difficult to work one more thing in our lives, but the case is that these treasures are under-occupied.

Despite all the data we have to show that learning about parenthood makes a difference for us and our children, it’s hard to find the time.

Parents are busy and struggling with cooking dinner, chores, childcare, homework, appointments, getting kids to cooperate, co-parenting, getting enough sleep, finding time for themselves. If only there was a way to handle it all better…exactly what classes and parent groups offer. It’s worth making a plan to start with just one class or one meeting.

Prepare for your parenting role with seasoned educators, mentors and coaches and programs such as Mom Power, Cherished Mom, Nurturing Parenting Program, MOMS R US, Attached at the Heart, Bristol Babies, Grand Connections, STRONG Pregnancies and STRONG Starts, 24:7 Dad, Bristol Family Resource Center, TriCities Babywearing, TN Voices, Strengthening Families, Triple P, Nurse-Family Partnership, Project Dad, Breastfeeding Essentials, High Country Doulas, Parenting Apart or ParentingSweet.org.

Learning about parenthood prepares us to give our children what they need most and gives them new mantras to model.

“I know you are disappointed.”

“Let’s get ready like Flash.”

“I can only drive when everyone is calm and safe.”

“Do you want fruit?”

“I see you are very sad. Would you like a hug?”

Samantha Gray is a mother of three and coordinator of the Parenting Education Network, an initiative of Bristol’s Promise (BristolsPromise.org). She is also Executive Director of Nurturings, an international parenting education and support organization (Nurturings.org), and the author of Directing Confidence: Cathy DeCaterina’s Theater Bristol and Let’s Dress up and Pretend (TheatreBristol.org).