Training meetings and "professional development" conferences and discussion groups are part of almost every job. Getting together in groups to hear from experts, brainstorm and ask questions is just a logical and accepted way of getting better at what we do.
Whether you are a construction worker, secretary, doctor, lawyer or other professional — whatever you do — it's likely that you receive training or updates, or attend briefings, conferences, qualification sessions or re-licensing programs to increase competency or get better at your job.
But what about the most important job, parenting and grandparenting? Where is the training? Where is the instruction? Where are the professional development sessions for moms and dads?
You have to have a license in this world for most things, even for fishing. But no license is required for the highest priority and privilege of all — raising kids.
When they hand you that pink bundle in the hospital, it doesn't come with an owner's manual.
And if you are feeling frustrated or in need of new parenting techniques or relationship expertise, there is no professional development conference you can go to.
Or is there?
We are aware of more and more efforts by churches, community and government organizations, businesses, authors and other experts to give parents and grandparents the opportunity to get together with their peers and learn and discuss with each other how they are doing with their families and how they can do better.
More and more professional conferences include sessions on family and relationships.
Parenting sections in bookstores seem to get bigger all the time, making available a potpourri of different approaches and ideas.
The Internet not only provides information but gives parents cyber communities to share ideas and to answer each other's questions.
There are more and more parent blogs, particularly the worldwide phenomenon of "mommy blogs" that share all kinds of ideas and insights not only on parenting but on the whole complex challenge of managing a home and family.
Our family has had the opportunity to be involved in many efforts related to parenting. Here are some examples:
Utah First Lady Jeanette Herbert is busy organizing a statewide conference on the family in connection with her "Uplift Utah Families Initiative" for next spring. It will offer a smorgasbord of parenting instruction, advice and training. (We know because we have been invited to be the keynote speakers.)
The website www.PowerofMoms.com and other similar online organizations provide all kinds of ideas, discussions, newsletters, podcasts and conferences to help mothers develop their parenting and marriage capabilities and to exchange ideas with other moms.
Our own Valuesparenting.com has everything from Joy Schools for preschool moms to LifeBalance programs to help busy parents keep all the "balls in the air."
We think one of the very best "mommy blogs" is www.71toes.blogspot.com.
The bottom line is that, as a society, we are becoming ever more aware of parenting — of its difficulties, complications, importance and potential solutions. No parent needs to feel isolated and alone, and no grandparent needs to feel like he or she is the only one worrying about how the children are raising the grandchildren.
Like everything else in life, we need to take advantage of the resources that are available and to remind ourselves that the "inner" parts of our lives — our marriages, families and children — are more important and more lasting than the "outer" parts of careers or golf games or social life, and that they require just as much effort, training and planning.
The Eyres' next book is "The Entitlement Trap: How to rescue your child with a new family system of choosing, earning, and ownership." See www.EntitlementTrap.com. Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or www.valuesparenting.com.