In high school, did you take a “life skills” or social science course that required you to become a “parent” to a bag of flour, a raw egg, or a mechanical doll for a few days? If so, you may recall that you were supposed to treat that thing was a live child — your child. You may also recall shoving it into your locker, under your bed, or into the trunk of your car.

Unfortunately, this particular “life skills” exercise rarely yielded the desired results of warning teens off premature parenthood or getting them to view the responsibilities of parenthood with the seriousness they deserve (or with any seriousness, really). But that doesn’t mean the concept of a pre-pregnancy parenting course is without merit.

For those who are already expecting, there is no shortage of childbirth and parenting instruction. You can take an intensive Saturday course that’ll walk you through everything from breathing exercises to swaddling in a mere six hours. Or you can take a six-week course where you and your partner learn how to make your own baby food and administer infant CPR. Usually, expectant parents decide to take these courses toward the end of their second or the beginning of their third trimesters.

But what are the options for adults who are on the fence about becoming parents at all? What about the people who aren’t sure they can handle being responsible for another human life, because they have very little insight into what-all that entails? Would a parenting course help them to make that determination?

Perhaps. Women’s health site LifeScript thinks parenting classes are useful for everyone, regardless of where they are in the decision-to-parent process:

Whether you take classes before having or adopting a child, getting professional guidance in raising children provides a terrific start to the parent-child relationship. In the past, such classes were mainly arranged for teen parents and single moms. But all that has changed. Multitudes of classes are available for parents older than 40, grandparents raising grandkids, or first-time parents. Some specialize in certain conditions, such as the childbirth process, breastfeeding and bonding, raising toddlers, or helping special needs children.

Back in August, we ran a piece about little-known pregnancy facts and the comments made clear how mysterious pregnancy and parenting can be for the uninitiated. Surely, knowing some of those things before you’re seven or eight months along would be beneficial. Sure, seeing a mom birth placenta after labor may freak the undecided future mother out a bit, but better to know these things and brace yourself than find out about them four weeks before they happen. The same logic applies to other post-pregnancy matters: knowing is half the battle and while nothing quite compares to the on-the-job training you’ll have, no matter how many courses you take in advance, the techniques you learn in parenting courses can really come in handy in the heat of a moment.

If you’re on the fence about parenthood in general, though, do you think attending a few classes to understand more about what you’d be in for would help you decide?

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