Often people think Relationship Education (RE) is only for couples, or for people preparing for marriage. The truth is, the skills learned in these classes are easily applied to all relationships in life, and they can do wonders for enhancing the relationship between parent and child.
Why should you try RE? Consider these four ways RE can build family relationships:
1. RE improves communication between parents and children. While everyone knows that communication is vital to any healthy relationship, RE teaches skills that allow parents and children to connect to each other in meaningful and satisfying ways, by expressing feelings clearly and actively listening to the other person’s perspective, and working together to find solutions that work well for everyone.
Vanessa from San Bernardino offers her testimonial: “This workshop has helped change my life …and allowed me to effectively communicate with my 4-year-old son by getting down to eye level and using power listening with him.”
Jen, a young girl from Fresno, says, “This class has helped me communicate with others especially with my mother…I’m taking the skills and applying them to my life.”
2. RE increases understanding and empathy. Often parents and children (especially teenagers!) don’t see eye to eye. From a child’s perspective, it may seem impossible that their parent understands what they are going through. From the parent’s perspective, it’s easy to forget how challenging it is to be a child. RE classes help parents and children learn to step into the other person’s shoes, so they can understand more deeply where the other person is coming from and communicate in ways that show their caring.
Amy, a teenager from Oakland, affirms, “This course is very helpful for my family and me. I tried first to listen to my mother when she talked with me this week. Skills help me to understand her and bonded us with a healthier relationship. When my mother criticizes me with hurtful words, now I know her underlining [sic] reason is she cares deeply, worry reflects in her words. This learning relaxes me and makes me no longer feel attacked when I relate to my mother. I no longer feel depressed and frustrated; instead, I am grateful to have a caring mom.”
3. RE improves conflict management. Sometimes parenting is frustrating. Inevitably, parents and kids have conflicts. RE teaches skills for coping with conflict in a healthy way and finding solutions that bring parents and children closer together.
Virginia from Anaheim explains, “This course helped me with my children to understand and listen without getting angry. My daughter is amazed at my changes and that I no longer lose control. Because of these changes, she speaks more openly with me. I no longer get aggressive and I know how to control my anger and my children see it.”
Jennifer, a teen from Riverside, notes, “Right away my relationship started changing for the better. When I talk to my parents I try to stay calm when they say ‘no’ to me, usually I would get mad right away, throw a fit, and cry. But now I can talk to them without the situation getting out of control. And now I always say thanks when they have done something I appreciate.”
4. RE improves the relationship between parents. Dr. John Gottman, a respected marriage researcher, puts the value of this into perspective by saying, “The greatest gift you can give your child is a strong relationship between you and your partner.” When you have a strong, healthy relationship with your partner, your relationship acts as a resource for you to draw upon in your parenting. Research consistently shows that RE classes can improve relationship satisfaction and communication for couples, even if they are in distress when they begin attending class.
Tif from Newport Beach experienced this in her marriage: “When we began attending, our marriage was in crisis. Through the stories, sharing, and teaching of each topic we have been able to add tools to our toolbox of communication. We did not only get past our crisis, but beyond it onto a deeper level of intimacy and communication in our marriage.” Even when parents are no longer romantically involved, the communication skills taught in RE can be valuable in helping them parent their children as a team.
Relationship Education isn’t just about romantic relationships. RE is for all relationships! The skills learned in these classes are easily applied to relationships with parents, children, friends, and coworkers. This Mother’s Day, consider attending a Relationship Education course so you can give your mother, your children, or the mother of your children the gift of a better relationship with the people that most matter to their lives!
Want to give Relationship Education a try? Healthy Relationships California offers a variety of great RE classes. Check out our Class Finder to locate a class near you, or read more about the classes we offer here.
Want to learn more?
- Read Why Every Couple Should Attend Marriage Education Classes.
- Read 6 Ways Dads Can Help Their Kids Honor Their Mom Right on Mother’s Day.
- Check out HRC’s Lives Transformed, a book of inspiring testimonials on the power of Relationship and Marriage Education.
- Read HRC’s Research Briefs on the benefits of Relationship and Marriage Education.
We want to hear from you! Has Relationship Education strengthened your family? Tell us your story below.
Written by Shelece McAllister–Copyright © 2013 Healthy Relationships California