Parenting workshop tackles issues

Community representatives recently gathered for a three-day parenting workshop spearheaded by the National Parenting Programme and facilitated by two members of Parenting Partners in Jamaica.

During the training session, the scope of parent-related issues extended from reviewing the stages of child development to managing stress, said a GIS press release.

‘Some top aims are to engage and involve children as part of the parenting process; to share knowledge and experiences; and to take the message of good values, empowerment and self-esteem to everyone – especially young men and women who are parents,’ said Parenting Partners’ facilitator Sharon Rose-Marie Johnson, who led the discussions with Coleen Wint-Smith.

One discussion surrounded reasons cited for having a child – such as trying to ‘keep’ the other partner, to prove personal status, or to control the other partner – which often results in the child being caught in a negative situation.

Discipline was a topical issue, one that generated a variety of opinions. Participants heard that while controlled spanking is allowable by law, discipline does not have to be physical.

‘More importantly,’ said one participant, ‘discipline does not necessarily mean punishment, but the instilling of a range of positive values.’

While common values such as love, caring and protection should continue through the child’s life, it was highlighted that in their first five years, children primarily need discipline and nurturing. Building on this foundation, they continue to need strong encouragement through their pre-teen years, and thereafter they rely on the ‘Love Formula’ -LOVE = Time + Positive Attention.

Empowering parents

With a goal of ‘Empowering and motivating parents to develop positive and effective parenting skills,’ the National Parenting Programme is coordinated by Deborah Webb of the Department of Children and Family Services. She is assisted by a steering committee and increasing numbers of participants in the Community-based Parent Support Teams.

Workshop attendees were members assigned to these teams, and included representatives from the RCIPS, the Early Childhood Association (pre-schools), social workers, churches and schools.

On the issue of working with parents, local parent-trainers were advised to build on the motivations and common parental links – including friends, associates and personal expectations. They were also urged to reach out to parents on social welfare, and on various court orders or prison sentences, to break the patterns of poor parenting skills.

Two Cayman Brac representatives – Social Work Supervisor Kerry Parchman and Community Development Officer Annie Rose Scott -participated in the training. Mrs. Scott said, ‘It was a very good workshop – the facilitators were dynamic, and I feel confident and geared up to now do a Cayman Brac parenting workshop.’

She added that the lessons learned at the seminar will have a range of applications on that island, especially in relation to teen issues.

In congratulating the 27 participants, Ms Webb said: ‘The purpose of the parent support teams is to identify concerns and issues in the respective communities and districts, and then develop effective approaches to improve the situation for parents and children alike.’

She added that the district teams will seek to build relationships with residents and institutions and continue the outreach process.

For more information on the NPP and the district activities, contact Ms Webb at 949-0290 or 925-5350.