There is help for new parents

Kelly Kurasz
Guest Columnist

It may have been the most terrifying day of my life. A 60 minute crash course in the family room of the hospital on how to care for your newborn and we were sent home with this 7 lb., screaming bundle of “joy.”

I remember walking into the house, placing the car seat down on the floor, and saying “Now what do we do?”

During the next few days I started sifting through the pile of papers and pamphlets we were sent home with. This was, apparently, the only instruction booklet I was getting.

I happened upon an invitation to the “New Parent Connection.”

A free support group, lead by a licensed parent educator, that met once a week at both Unity and Mercy hospitals. I had never considered myself a “support group” kind of gal but, suddenly, I was counting down the hours to the next meeting.

The goal of the group was to support the needs of new parents from baby’s birth to four months and that was exactly what it did. Attending this once a week (or more if I went to both Unity and Mercy) was the first stepping stone to becoming a more confident and educated parent.

Like all good things, this too, had to end.

After almost five months (yes, I had a hard time leaving after the four month cut-off) I was primed with a great new network of friends and an amazing amount of information on parenting resources.

One of those being the second stepping stone: Early Childhood Family Education.

ECFE is an incredible program for parents and their children from birth to five years. It is an affordable opportunity to strengthen families and develop not only a child to their full potential, but also a parent. They teach you ways to foster your child’s development through play. The best way for children to learn.

It also allows parents to talk with each other and share experiences while at the same time showing the children around them how to be respectful and social people. ECFE is available because of local and state funding combined with reasonable parent fees.

Because of this funding, no one is turned down because of inability to pay.

Parent involvement in early childhood development increases our child’s ability to be successful in school. The resources out there to make it happen are plentiful.

Hospital support groups, ECFE programs, free library story times, nature centers, and parks in every neighborhood are just the start.

I am now a stay-at-home mom to two children under the age of four.

Parenting has not come easy for me. Getting out with other parents in a variety of structured and unstructured environments has greatly increased my ability to learn my way through the inevitable “phases” of parenthood.

If you are a new parent or just a parent struggling to find answers, you don’t have to look far to find support. Your community has it, most likely, right around the corner.

In fact, you can find a class at [email protected] under the ECFE section.

— The writer lives in Columbus.