SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
The 52nd Medical Operations Squadron's Family Advocacy office provides free parenting-education classes to members of the Spangdahlem Air Base community.
The squadron's New Parent Support Program staff offers five courses geared to help new parents overcome difficulties experienced during early child rearing.
One set of courses, titled Babies 101 and Babies 201, targets families who want to learn the basics of being a parent.
"The goal of these two courses is to provide parents confidence in taking care of their newborn children," said Melanie Maddox, 52nd MDOS NPSP nurse and class instructor from St. Louis. "We're focused on the practical, hands-on skills in newborn care. There is so much you can learn, and these courses expose new parents to some of the current information out there about raising children."
The Department of Defense retains skilled nurses and technicians who research modern parenting techniques and share the information with service members, Maddox said. Each Air Force installation has a parent-support program, but the specific courses available and classroom objectives differ based on the needs of the community. At Spangdahlem, the NPSP staff split the Babies course into 101 and 201 to allow more time for discussion and hands-on, practical demonstrations such as changing a diaper, bathing, clothing and placing a child into a car seat.
"These classes should be mandatory for all parents," said Courtney Worthington, an expectant mother attending a March 19, 2014, class. "It's especially beneficial to new parents, because you walk away knowing exactly how to treat a baby.
"Becoming a parent is nerve wracking," the Stansbury Park, Utah, native continued. "I keep thinking, 'I'm going to have a baby in (my) house, and I don't even know how to clean an umbilical cord.'"
Maddox said these courses not only equip new parents, but are also important based on risk factors of the military: typically younger families, deployments, single-parenting situations, odd duty hours, and limited childcare and social support from family members.
"We're here to provide helpful tips and information to make this the best experience possible," Maddox said about strengthening parental foundations. "There is nothing else like these courses, and it could be the best thing parents ever do."
Babies 101 and 201 are available once a month, and anyone interested in participating should call the Family Advocacy office at DSN 452-8279 or 06565-61-8279.
For a full listing of all available courses, visit http://www.spangdahlem.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-140131-011.pdf