KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Spanish-speaking parents who are participating in a class offered by Centro Hispano de East Tennessee are learning not just how to better parent their children, but also how to break certain cycles that had run in their own families. The program is called “Crianza Con Cariño,” or “Nurturing Parenting” and is offered exclusively in Español.

While the classes may seem small and intimate, Crianza Con Cariño is a program that is making a big difference in the lives of many Hispanic and Latino East Tennessee families.

“Some of our parents are parents who are mandated to take the course, because of court involvement or other things, and other times it’s just parents who want to learn more about their child’s development and how to manage their behaviors and support them through each stage of development,” Bonnie Ortiz, family support coordinator at Centro Hispano, said. “We have actually added some things into the program that kind of make it more interactive for our parents, because we found that being interactive with our parents has worked much better to get their engagement into the class.”

Crianza Con Cariño’s most recent round of classes began in late August, running for six weeks at the TCAT campus on Division Street. The focus of the class overall is learning more about positive parenting while also creating and maintaining healthy relationships with children.

“In my case, at first I really didn’t want to take the course, the topic of nurturing I know is a topic we’ve always discussed, but let’s say we didn’t agree,” Einstein Morales, a participating parent, said. “And then we made the decision to take the course, and I liked it quite a bit and learned many things.”

During the classes, parents learn methods for calming and caring for their children. Activities include role play and group discussions, while also reviewing the set curriculum, stimulating the mind.

“Thanks to the course, especially the part that explains the psychology, empathy, about understanding that they are equal human beings and what behavior they show is not because they have been a bad child, or because they have been poorly raised, or poorly educated, but because there are reactions in the brain and the normal body,” Monica Vargas, a participating parent, said. “It’s helped me a lot to be calm, to understand them, and I can put myself in their shoes.”

Some of the parents have taken many of the lessons to heart, as they recognize the need for breaking cycles in which they had been raised when they were children.

“I am very happy to have taken the class, it helped me break the cycles that run in my family, (especially) about hitting,” Elena Castro, a participating parent, said. “If there is a child who knows how to defend himself and you are going to see hitting or beatings, this isn’t nurturing. I want, for me, to break this cycle in my own family and Crianza Con Cariño helped me a lot.”

Child care is provided for participating parents and there are incentives given for completing the course. Leaders say the class is “training parents for the most important job they will ever do.”

As they nurture their children, the parents are also in many ways nurturing themselves. For more information about the class and other courses offered by Centro Hispano, click here.