The handbook to parenting

Published 12:10 am Friday, December 9, 2011

Program facilitators Sheen Johnson (left) and Lisa Reid hand out certificates to the latest preadolescent class taking part in FUN – Families Understanding Nurturing. (Submitted Photo)

They come together to break bread. Entire families — parents, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles — sitting down to a meal, interacting as they normally would in their own homes. But these are many families together and they are being observed by professionals trained to recognize negative family dynamics and help solve them.

The Families Understanding Nurturing (FUN) program is a 14-week-long parenting program held by the Cornerstone Family Worship Center, and sponsored through grants by the Beaufort County Department of Social Services and the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The course teaches parents and siblings how to interact in more nurturing ways and helps parents and children recognize destructive patterns of behavior in the home.

Awareness of bad habits is the first step in learning how to break those habits and replace them with positive, and more rewarding, relationships.

“We try to get the whole family involved because we want everyone,” said Lisa Reid, one of the program’s facilitators.  “Everyone can commune together as one big family.  That’s how it feels — like we’re one big family.”

According to the FUN director Bishop James S. McIntyre, the program is an opportunity to provide care, understanding and practical information to families who need just a little bit of help with their nurturing skills.

“Parenting is not an easy job,” said Reid. “You’re not given a handbook when you have a child. (Through FUN) we can learn how to empathize, how to nurture.”

FUN, and its facilitators, provide that handbook through nurturing curriculum created by Fran B. Kaplan, MSW, Ed.D. and Dr. Steven Bavolek of UNC-Greensboro, with five objectives: “Building Self-Worth Through Appropriate Expectations of Children’s Growth and Development,” “Developing Empathy and Sense of Caring in Parents and Children,” “Utilizing Positive Non-violent Discipline Practices and Techniques,” “Having Appropriate Family Role Expectations through Self-Awareness,” “Empowering Adults and Children Through the Development of their Personal Power.”

For the preadolescent group, that means learning to express self-concepts and self-esteem through art. Their exhibit, called “Museum of Thought,” was on display at the Nov. 29 meeting, in which phase 7 of the Families Understanding Nurturing program ended. The participating families came together to reflect on their 14 weeks together and how much they had accomplished.

Though some of the 20- and 30-something year old parents and surrounding families had been recommended to the program through community agencies, some participants enrolled on their own.

Reid, who has four children, thinks that anyone can benefit from the program: “You learn so much from the curriculum, from the children. We try to give them as much assistance as possible.”

The parent program of FUN, the Nurturing Parenting Program, is an evidence-based program, that has proven effectiveness in treating and preventing the recurrence of child abuse and neglect.

According to a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Long–Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect,” 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the cycle of abuse.

In direct contrast, local families are learning to use their “power for positive things” through the FUN program.