Pros and Cons of Online Parenting Classes

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I see you, friend. Maybe you’re at your wit’s end and don’t know how you’ll ever get your kids to stop fighting. Maybe you’re rocking a newborn, but are trying to prepare yourself for the years to come. Maybe you just separated from your spouse and are trying to figure out how you’ll co-parent after 10 years together.

Wherever this post finds you, if you are considering an online parenting course as a way to transform your family, I want to help you understand the pros and cons of online parenting classes (as opposed to in-person classes or counseling), so you can make the best decision for your family.

I’ve been a parenting educator for over 14 years and have taught in every setting you can imagine – in-person classes, workshops, conferences, online webinars, online seminars, online courses, and more.

Wherever I’ve found parents who want to learn, I’ve been there to teach.

Over my years of teaching, I’ve noticed how differently parents learn in online courses versus in-person classes. And while there are positives to both types of learning, it’s important to weigh your options with an open mind and a clear understanding of the differences before you make an investment.

Before we explore the differences between in-person and online parenting courses, it’s important to note that not all parenting classes are created equal. Each one offers something different to serve its members, so if you determine an online parenting course is the right method for your family, be sure to do your research to guarantee the course fits all of your needs.


Scheduling

Online Parenting Class Pro: Flexible schedule options
Online Parenting Class Con: No set time to hold you accountable

Parents are possibly the busiest creatures on the planet which is why online parenting courses are a great way to learn.

Online classes offer parents the flexibility to learn in the margins of their day instead of being required to attend at a set time each week.

However, a flexible schedule isn’t always the most beneficial. If you need extra accountability and the motivation of knowing someone is expecting you for class. An appointment with a counselor or a set date for an in-person class might get your “butt in the seat” more so than an online course that gives you “as your schedule allows” access.

But.

Let me offer a  word of caution if you feel you need “extra accountability” or are worried you might not follow through on an online parenting class…

Just because you may be more motivated to show up for an in-person class or a counseling session, that doesn’t ensure life won’t throw you curveballs – a sick child, an unexpected meeting, a last-minute work trip.

Chances are, even if you’ve committed to an in-person class with the best of intentions, you might find yourself missing out on a class or two – and missing out on key information you’ll need to solve the problems you wanted to solve in the first place.

During the in-person classes I’ve taught over the years, it inevitably happens – a parent misses a class or two for good reason (life happens) and intends to catch up on the material. But, they always fall behind and end up feeling discouraged and even more frustrated because they didn’t solve the problems they hoped to correct.

While you may not have a physical person to hold you accountable in an online parenting class, the flexible schedule options ensure you never “get behind” because you simply learn at your own pace.

Summary: If you are a busy parent who can be motivated to follow through on taking the course as your schedule and busy family life allows, an online parenting class is a great option for you!


Access

Online Parenting Class Pro: Most courses offer immediate access to content
Online Parenting Class Con: You won’t necessarily have immediate access to the parenting expert.

The fact that you’re reading this article tells me you are interested in making a change in your parenting habits. The question is, how long can you wait to start learning what you need to know?

With online parenting courses, you usually receive immediate access to the course content. Instead of waiting around for your in-person class to begin next month on Tuesday evenings or your counselor to have an opening, you can begin learning TODAY in most online parenting courses. (Remember to do your research because even some online courses only run at specified times!)

However, just because you can start learning immediately online, doesn’t mean you will have access to the parenting expert immediately. You might have to wait for your online instructor to release their coaching schedule to get a personal consultation.

But remember, even though you can ask your in-person parenting expert a question on the first day of class, doesn’t mean you’ll get answers NOW. Unless you can see a counselor or begin an in-person class tomorrow, you’ll be waiting to ask your instructor questions either way.

If you are hoping to make a change NOW, I’d encourage you to find an online parenting course with immediate access to content. After all, your kids are too important – don’t let another day pass by without making positive changes in your home.

Summary: If you want to start making changes NOW, an online parenting class with immediate access is a great way to get started!


Continuity

Online Parenting Class Pro: Lifetime access for continued support
Online Parenting Class Con: Some courses offer access for a limited amount of time

Remember how I said not all online parenting classes are created equal? Continuity is one of the biggest differentiators between online parenting courses.

As an educator, I want to help parents solve their biggest parenting struggles once and for all. This is one of the most compelling reasons in-person classes fall short for me.

The truth is, parenting is a marathon. Or more like 20 marathons strung together. And while I can teach parents in person for 7 weeks out of their 20-year parenting journey, the chances are high that somewhere along the path, they are going to stumble again.

Their child will stop completing their chores. Homework will become an everyday battle. The lying will overtake the house.

Another parenting obstacle is going to rear its ugly head – guaranteed. So the question is – as an in-person classroom instructor – how can I serve that person effectively 3 years after they’ve left my class?

Unfortunately, I can’t.

And this is just one of the reasons I took my class online. I wanted to offer parents support for the ENTIRE marathon. Not just a portion of it.

As a consumer and an educator, I urge you to be wary of ANY parenting course – online or in-person – that doesn’t offer lifetime access and support. If you are making the investment, you need to know you have a soft place to land if your parenting journey begins to unravel down the road.

Summary: An online parenting class with LIFETIME access is a great option for parents who want continual support on their parenting journey, not just a portion of it.


Information

Online Parenting Class Pro: Comprehensive and Complete
Online Parenting Class Con: You may not need all of the information right away

Before you enroll in any kind of class – in-person or online – you’ll want to know what you’ll be learning.

Online parenting classes usually provide a detailed outline of all topics they cover, so you should feel confident knowing what you’ll be learning.

As was true with continuity, online parenting courses vary greatly when it comes to the information they share. Some courses (online and classroom) offer compartmentalized solutions (i.e. age-specific modules or behavior-specific solutions). If you opt for this type of parenting course, it’s possible you’ll have other questions that arise in the future.

Sure, you might successfully address your 2-year-old’s temper tantrums by taking the “Tantrum Course,” but if you don’t address the power struggle that is underlying your child’s tantrums, this power struggle will manifest in other ways.

While you’ve reduced the tantrums, the root cause may now flare its head during potty training or the bedtime routine or getting dressed in the morning.

Other courses offer a holistic and comprehensive approach to parenting. These all-encompassing courses are a great option for parents who want to be well-equipped for any issues that arise.

The only downside is parents have the potential to be overwhelmed with the amount of information at their fingertips. Right now you’re worried about the mealtime drama and don’t need to know how to talk to your teen about sex. Or maybe you’re wondering how to handle your children’s allowance but aren’t concerned with their technology usage.

A quality comprehensive online parenting course will address ALL of these issues, but should have the information organized and easily-accessible for its parents so you can get the answers you need quickly.

Then, who knows, as time goes on you may find yourself needing to watch the module on having the sex talk or technology usage. But, good news, you’ll have it!

When you pair LIFETIME access (like we talked about above) with a comprehensive parenting program, you have a recipe for parenting success: You’ll have solutions for ALL potential issues for ALL time.

Summary: Before you enroll in a less-than-comprehensive or behavior-specific parenting course or book, be sure the information you learn won’t simply put a band-aid over a deeper issue. Look for a comprehensive course with lifetime access.


Support

Online Parenting Class Pro: Comprehensive online support options
Online Parenting Class Con: No eye-to-eye, across-the-desk support

If there is one thing ALL parents need on this wildly wonderful journey of parenthood it is SUPPORT. We want to know we aren’t the only ones who wonder why little boys can’t keep their clothes on or what the mysterious substance is under the dining room table. We want fellow commiserators and cheerleaders on this journey.

Most online parenting classes offer some level of digital support – whether that’s through a Facebook group, coaching calls, or email support.

Online support can be extremely helpful for those with flexible schedules who enjoy a sense of community, but if you need to sit across from someone and look them in the eye to get the help you need, this type of support may fall short.

In-person counseling or an in-person class could be a better option for someone who thrives off of eye-to-eye, across-the-desk contact.

As with everything in life, there is a trade-off for in-person support. In this case, it’s scheduling.

You’ll need to decide if it’s more important for you to have when-you-need-it access to supportive  Facebook groups, emails, or coaching, or if you’re willing to wait for next week’s in-person class or your next counseling appointment to get the help you need.

Summary: While online parenting courses offer a great deal of support and are a smart choice for parents who want more flexible support options, they might not meet the needs of those who prefer in-person communication.


Cost

Online Parenting Class Pro: Less expensive than counseling
Online Parenting Class Con: Cost varies greatly

I get it. You’re a family on a budget and want to ensure any money you spend is well-worth the investment. While the cost of online parenting courses varies, you’ll often find the price is well below what you would pay for private counseling sessions.

Related: How Much Does an Online Parenting Course Cost?

The varying cost can make choosing an online class more challenging. Sure, you can find a low-cost parenting course, but these usually offer limited access and little to no support.  

Depending on the program, online courses are usually much more comprehensive than the information covered in a classroom or a book. So sure, you might pay more for an online course, but that will quickly pay for itself in terms of content, support, and access.

Summary: You will find online parenting classes to be more affordable than in-person counseling sessions or private coaching and usually more comprehensive than a book or in-person class.


Learning Style

Online Parenting Class Pro: Helpful for Auditory and Visual Learners
Online Parenting Class Con: Not as helpful for those who prefer classroom learning

When considering an online parenting class, it’s important to ask yourself how you learn best. Online learning is extremely beneficial for those who learn well through video or audio.

If you have a difficult time staying focused over an extended period of time (like 2-hours in a classroom), online courses usually offer bite-sized chunks of material for you to work through at your own pace.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy sitting in a traditional classroom or counseling office, an in-person class could serve you well.

Just remember that if you choose an in-person class and are bound to a specific schedule, you will need to ensure you can give the class your full-attention each week to get the most out of it.

Summary: An online parenting class is a great option for visual and auditory learners who need a flexible schedule like the one online classes offer.


Final Thoughts

I know you want to tackle the power struggles in your home and have many options to choose from. While the resources are plenty – books, counselors, in-person classes, online classes, etc. – online learning is a great option for busy parents.

With an affordable price tag, flexible schedule, online support, and comprehensive information, an online parenting course could be just what you need to see positive results in your home.

If you’d like to learn more about the online parenting course we offer here at Positive Parenting Solutions, check out our Course Details Page.

Want to see if an online parenting course is a good fit for your family? Join me for a FREE class!

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.