Boys Town offers free parenting classes in Portsmouth

‘They can come from any walk of life,’ organizer says

By Jim McGaw
Posted 11/5/19

As anyone with children knows, there’s no guidebook out there that will make you a perfect parent.

But there are resources out there to help you manage the ebbs and flows of childrearing. …

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Boys Town offers free parenting classes in Portsmouth

‘They can come from any walk of life,’ organizer says

Posted

As anyone with children knows, there’s no guidebook out there that will make you a perfect parent.

But there are resources out there to help you manage the ebbs and flows of childrearing. Among them are the “Common Sense” parenting classes offered by Boys Town New England, headquartered in Portsmouth.

The parenting program, which can be applied to every family, shares easy-to-learn techniques that address issues of ​communication, discipline, decision-making, relationships, self-control ​and school success.

The program, which is supervised by Maria R. Marroquin, is now being made available in the public schools thanks to funding from the Newport County Prevention Coalition.

The free series is being offered from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Hathaway Elementary School, 53 Tallman Ave., from Nov. 5 to Dec. 17; and Thursdays at Melville Elementary School, 1351 West Main Road, from Nov. 7 to Jan. 2.

To register for the classes and to arrange for child care, call 401/214-4967 and leave a message.

Ms. Marroquin said another series is currently being held at Portsmouth Middle School on Wednesday nights. It was booked out completely. “We typically cap at 15,” she said.

She emphasized that the classes are for parents of any stripe, as the issues they face are shared by all. 

“It’s just for parents in general. They can come from any walk of life,” said Ms. Marroquin, adding that parenting classes at Boys Town are also open to all.

“We want the community to know that Boys Town is a communal space,” she said.

When asked what concerns parents share with her, she replied, “Every time I have a conversation with parents about this stuff, they always same the same thing: “I just want to be a more effective communicator,’ she said. “They feel like they’re doing a lot of yelling and they’re not getting thorough to their kids. We teach parents to be teachers — less lecturing and more teaching.”

Will and Dana Squires are a Portsmouth couple who took part in a seven-week “Common Sense” parenting class at Boys Town starting in August. They have a 7-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.

“Maria came to my son’s school last year and spoke to a PTA meeting,” Dana said. “The teacher as parent — that really resonated with me.”

That’s why Dana said she and Will decided to take the class. 

“We’re not necessarily communicating what we expect our kids to do; we just expect them to know that,” she said, adding that children need to know what’s expected of them.

Will said he was initially skeptical about taking the class, but ultimately found it to be very valuable.

“It was a really enjoyable class and we did a lot of role-playing in the class, which was a lot of fun,” he said. “The biggest thing I got out of it was, we communicate with adults every day but we don’t communicate with our children the same way.”

The couple said they were able to apply something they learned each week in the class to their childrearing at home; they even had “homework.” The classes also gave the couple an opportunity to bond more, according to Will.

“After class we got to talk about things and how to implement then. It forced us to spend more time together, which in the end is going to make us a better, stronger family.”

“We were a little bit unsure what we were getting into,” said Dana. “But it really does apply to every family. It’s not just for families dealing with extreme behavioral issues. It was very specific to everyone’s needs.”

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