Tony Marino, parent educator with the Forest-Warren Department of Human Services, knows that children do not come with owner's manuals.
That's why Marino, who teaches parenting classes along with Monica Raible, said classes are important because parenting is one of the hardest and most important jobs anyone can have.
Several free parenting classes with topics ranging from coping with divorce to active parenting of children in all age groups will be offered in July and August.
The classes are offered on a two-month schedule throughout the year, and Marino said many of the classes are taught from a curriculum Human Services purchased.
He said the classes are based on a textbook, parent's workbook and DVD vignettes, but there is plenty of room for feedback from the parents.
Marino said a lot of the class is paying attention to each parent's life and then drawing from that.
"A process of parents meeting and talking to other parents is a helpful one," he said.
A few of the classes have been extended to be six-hour courses as a means to get more information to the parents.
One of the more widely attended classes is about coping with divorce. Marino said that's because it is often court-mandated in custody disputes. He said the focus of the class is to minimize the trauma to the child in the dispute.
Marino said all of the classes are important because how parents interact with their child is shaping who the child is.
"It's like a ripple in the pond," he said. "Our influence on our children is our influence on their future."
He said the classes are a way to get parents to help their children, to protect them and to prepare them to thrive and survive in the world.
While Marino said what the class focuses on depends upon the age of the child, they are all about trying to teach kids to be responsible and help them to develop courage and self-esteem.
Also, he said the classes usually focus on discipline as a teaching tool, not punishment.
"All in all, we're teaching mutual respect," Marino said.
Marino said being a parent is a process of learning and even though he has been teaching parenting classes for six years he still learns things as he teaches.
"One of the things that needs to be said is that there are no perfect parents," he said. "We want to care for our children, but we don't get an owner's manual."
The six parenting classes begin on July 7. A complete list of classes is available at Forest-Warren Human Service, 27 Hospital Dr., North Warren. Pre-registration is required and can be done by calling 726-2100.