Parenting Classes Needed For Emotionally Immature Parents

(LOUISVILLE, November 29th, 2001, 1 p.m.) -- The latest case of child abuse involving a 13-month-old Louisville girl who died Thanksgiving day has left the community in shock. Sources close to the investigation say someone beat and choked little Kylie Stewart, causing bleeding in her brain. Experts say parenting classes are needed to help prevent attacks on children.

Medical professionals say adults who hurt kids like Kylie lack the emotional maturity and knowledge to be good parents.

According to forensic expert Dr. Betty Spivack, "The vast majority of physical abuse is from frustrated action, people who, if they had those 30 seconds to live over again, might well have done it differently."

Most hospitals in Kentuckiana offer free parenting classes to help mom and dad deal with the round-the-clock stress infants can cause mom and dads. At Baptist Hospital East, we learned a few ways to deal with frustration when parents feel they're at their wits' end.

Meagan Coultas said she is nervous about what to do if her newborn continually cries or is upset, but said the parenting classes are helping ease her fears. Instructors in the classes try to explain what the baby is going through and how parents can cope.

Sue People is a Registered Nurse and Instructor for one of the classes. She says one big problem parents face is a lack of sleep. "We talk about sleep deprivation is a big issue when taking care of a new baby," People said.

According to Peoples, "When you're up and down every couple of hours at night, it becomes a very important issue, and people who can't imagine that they would lose their cool all of a sudden realize that without their normal amounts of sleep ... that maybe it was an easier thing than would have ever considered."

Long, sleepless nights can cause even the best parent to snap. Knowing how to deal with the frustration makes all the difference.

One important thing to remember is that help is just a phone call away. "There is someone staffing those lines 24 hours a day," People said. "And if they call the nurse and say, I cannot get this baby to stop crying, I don't know what to do ... someone with a calm voice will calm you down."

Temper Tips. Take a break from the crying baby. As a last resort, you can even put the crying baby in the crib and close the door, but check on the child every three to five minutes. That will give frustrated parents some time to get it together.

Soon to be a father, David Coultas says he is ready for the challenge. He has attended the parenting classes and knows the most important rule he can learn is to "be patient."

If you'd like information on Baptist Hospital East's parenting class, the number to call is 897-8131.

Online Reporter: Carolyn Gaeta

Online Producer: Michael Dever