Griffin Promotes ‘Finer Points’ of National Parenting Programme

The Department of Rehabilitative and Welfare Services, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development, has developed and established a cutting-edge National Parenting Programme that is reaping positive results for those parents and children participating in the Programme.

Addressing a Special Assembly held at the Sybil Strachan Primary School (formerly Carmichael Primary School) on Thursday, February 23, to honour “outstanding parents” of the school, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said the National Parenting Programme has been tailored to encompass topics such as positive parenting initiatives, child communication, discipline, managing finances and stress management.

Mrs. Griffin encouraged parents to take “full advantage” of the classes – particularly those who are experiencing challenges with their children, as there is no substitute for parental involvement.

“In this age of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and other types of social media, there is still no substitute for good, old-fashioned parental involvement. Be there for your children, listen and try to remember what you felt at their age, yet always remember that you are their parents, not their buddies.”

Established in 1994 within the Child Welfare Division of the Department of Social Services under the Supervision of then Chief Welfare Officer Ms. Elizabeth Diggis, the National Parenting Programme was launched out of a concern over the escalation of single parent families; the numerous single mothers who were experiencing challenges rearing their toddlers, pre-teens and adolescents and the apparent disintegration of the family, and the many social ills that permeated the society such as high rates of teen pregnancies, juvenile delinquency, child abuse and HIV/AIDS.

The National Parenting Programme provides parents with information that promotes healthy family relationships. It is designed to create a comfortable environment where parents can share with and learn positive parenting skills from facilitators and other parents and creates a support network for parents by offering encouragement, information and referrals.

Parenting Education Classes are held at twelve-week intervals (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) from 11am-1pm and 5pm-7pm at the Programme’s new location – the Hillside Business Plaza, Thompson Boulevard.  Community-based sessions are held for eight weeks.

“Despite what seems to be the overwhelming belief that parenting is a skill that comes naturally to everyone, this is not the case,” Mrs. Griffin said. “There is a very real need within our communities to educate parents about their roles and responsibilities. Parenting, like any other skill, can be improved upon.

“My Ministry’s Parenting Classes seek to move parents beyond the authoritarian, spare the rod, spoil the child mentality to one that acknowledges that children have rights, which is a different mindset from the one we grew up with.”

Minister Griffin said the purpose of the progamme is to prepare and train parents for the roles they are expected to play and the responsibilities they have been assigned as parents in order to assist with building stronger families and by extension, better communities.

Children, Mrs. Griffin said, are the backbone and the future of the country and as such, there is a need to ensure that they grow and develop in safe, secure and happy environments – including the home environment.

“This is why it is imperative that we encourage them to be the best they can be. Our country needs a group of confident, well-rounded young people who will be ready and fully equipped to take this country into their hands when their time comes.”

Mrs. Griffin said one of the “best ways to do this” is through providing positive examples as parents and adults.

“Understand that whatever you do regularly as parents, your children will think of those things as normal and will emulate them. The reality is that you cannot get out of children what you do not put in. For example, when children see their parents and guardians take an interest in reading and learning, they are much more likely to become regular readers and critical thinkers. In this regard, I encourage everyone here today to become life-long learners.”

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