Parenting Programs

Parenting is a rollercoaster ride, with periods of utter joy, laughter, connection and confidence, and episodes of uncertainty, despair, confusion and helplessness. When things are going well we rely on our “gut” feelings and intuition to navigate our interactions with our children. However, during those rough periods, we need to STOP and gather our “Wise Mind,” which is not always immediately available during periods of high emotions. We can then “act” and not “react” to our children’s behavior.

At Families First we know: “Parents are doing the best they can, and that they can do better!” In our parenting classes, workshops and consultations, our underlying philosophy is that all children want to do well, to belong and be valued. When we treat them with respect, and unconditional love, they will learn important life skills for cooperation, adaptability, problem-solving, relationships and communication. We equip parents with tools to handle parent-child situations in a clear, respectful and confident manner.

227 1/2 West Front Street, Missoula, MT 59802

Office Hours

Monday- CLOSED
Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm

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Parenting Center Hours (located in the Children’s Museum)

Tuesdays  10:00am-12:00pm


Our parenting classes serve two purposes – our parent educators can share research-based information about raising healthy, resilient children, and parents and guardians have the opportunity to network and exchange ideas and advice. Many of our parenting classes are free and open to the public with childcare provided.

Our core curriculum emphasizes positive discipline, communication, and self-esteem in families.

Check out our Calendar of Events for dates and times for upcoming classes. Sign up for our weekly E-Newsletter.

Parenting Classes:

Positive Discipline  7-week series

Thursdays, October 27-December 15, 12:00-1:30 PM     Held at Families First Offices, 227-1/2 W. Front Street, Missoula

The underlying principle of positive discipline is establishing an atmosphere of mutual respect and dignity while utilizing a kind and firm parenting approach.   This 7-week interactive workshop will focus on strategies to help children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem-solving skill using Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson.

Cost:   $50 for class, includes book                                                             $40 for partner without book                                                  Museum Members receive a $10 discount

Childcare is available.  We ask for a $5 donation per child per class.

Books are available for pick-up the week of October 18 to begin reading before the class.

For more information or to register call 406.721.7690.


Circle of Security is a relationship-based parenting program designed to help parents understand children’s needs, often hidden by their behavior, and to help parents reflect on their own upbringing and beliefs.  COS helps improve the quality of the parent-child relationship which results in a change in children’s behavior.  This popular  multi-part workshop is FREE of charge. Held at the Families First Office, 227 1/2 W Front Street, Missoula, MT.  Call to register or for more information 721.7690.

Upcoming classes include:

  • Tuesdays, November 15, 22, 29, December 6 & 13 from  12:00-2:00 PM

Other Classes to look for during the school year

Mindful Discipline  A 6 week series on mindful parenting strategies with a loving approach to setting limits and raising an emotionally intelligent child.  We will  look at ways we can be more present, more aware of ourselves, more conscious of our reactions, and more clear of how we want to parent.   We will be discussing the Mindful Discipline book, practicing techniques, and sharing our successes and challenges.  Book included.

Best Parent You can Be (in the Moment ) This 4-week series will include discussion on positive discipline, mindfulness, and brain development.  This class is geared for any parent who is interested in learning tools and in gaining an awareness in order to parent in a more effective and proactive (not reactive) way.  Held at the Families First Offices, 227 1/2 W Front Street, Missoula, MT. Call  for more information 721.7690.


The Parent Education Series at MCPS in conjunction with the Lifelong Learning Center

Join Families First Parent Educators throughout the school year for free classes with topics ranging from self confidence to  your child’s temperament. Childcare is available upon request. Go to MCPS Classes or check out the calendar of events. Call 721.7690 for more information.

Services for Parents & Caregivers:

Parent Resource Center                                                                 in the Museum near the Art Room

 Open Daily

In the museum, visit the Parent Resource Center, where you’ll find parenting tip sheets,  books and information on Families First parenting support services, and an array of information on community support services.

                      On Tuesdays from 10:00 am-Noon

                     Stop by to have a chat with Dara Newman,                                             our Parent Education Director                                  or reserve a 30 minute visit by calling 721.7690.              (Childcare available during your 30 minute visit.)

                     You need not be a museum member.


• Individualized Parenting Classes

Parenting questions and concerns occur no matter the age of the child. As parents, we sometimes get stuck and feel unsure, confused and helpless as to what to do. In our individualized classes, we help you discover insight into your child’s behavior and an understanding of your own responses, feelings and beliefs. Through this awareness you can navigate your toddler’s tantrums, through teen solemnness and hysteria, with clarity and understanding. Utilizing our philosophy of “a child will do well when they feel good” we help with issues of: bossiness, defiance, homework completion, anxiety, potty training, sibling rivalry, whining, biting, hitting, skipping classes, electronic overuse and many more. If you would like a more in-depth face-to-face meeting with a specialist we offer individualized parenting classes for $50/hr. Call 721.7690 to schedule an appointment.

• Parenting Plan Mediation

Additional shared parenting services include mediation consultations, as well as creating parenting plans that address the needs of both parents. Call 406.721.7690 to schedule an appointment with the Parenting Plan Specialist. Consultations are $50/hr. Each party pays their fee.  Financial arrangements are available.

• Shared Parenting Classes  

Learn More

• Emotion Coaching

Learn how to be an Emotion Coach for your child. Similar to an athletic coach parents can learn how to teach their children strategies to deal with life’s ups and downs. Studies have shown that children’s emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings will determine their ability to succeed in school and relationships. “Emotion Coach” parents do set clear firm limits, however rather than “misbehavior” being the major concern, the emphasis is on feelings, problem solving, and thus loyalty and affection between parent and child. Call to schedule an appointment with Dara Newman, Ph.D. Coaching sessions are $50/hr. A sliding scale payment is available.

• Parent Helpline

The Helpline is designed for parents who have questions regarding their child’s temperament, sleeping issues, and general parenting questions. This service is FREE. Call 1.800.346.2223 or 721.7690 and our Parent Education Director will respond within 48 hours.