UD employees learn positive parenting skills
Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 04:09
Yvonne Nass, mother of three, stepmother of five, grandmother of 12, knows a thing or two about parenting. In fact, she has been teaching it for nearly 40 years.
Nass offers her expertise to all university employees with children four to 12 years old in a three-part "Positive Parenting" workshop hosted by the university's Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.
Her proposed strategies involve empathy, encouragement and mutual respect between parents and children.
As a certified parent educator, Nass teaches parents how to build relationships with their children, and has taught and developed specialized courses for divorced, imprisoned and teenage parents.
She uses her personal experience as a parent during her lessons, presenting herself as proof that certain parenting strategies really do pay off.
"I have lots of stories and lots of examples about how this works," Nass said. "So what I try to do is say, ‘OK, I'm one of you and this is what's worked for me and this is why.'"
Nass said the workshop will also explore communication skills that encourage analytical thinking in young children. Too often, children are given solutions to problems rather than guided towards them.
Parents can do a lot more to promote this kind of thinking at an early age, she said.
"It's the idea of raising a problem-solver, not a problem," Nass said. "Our children are being told what to do, directed what to do, and so they're not really developing the life skills of decision-making and problem-solving."
Food & Resource professor and human development specialist Patricia Nelson stated in an email message that stress overwhelms all parents at times, but in excess can have a negative impact on parenting.
"Stress undermines our ability to make good decisions, and our ability to be loving and nurturing – things children need from their parents to grow up healthy and ready for success," Nelson said.
Human development and family studies professor Bahira Sherif Trask, a mother of five-year-old twins, said parents are often overwhelmed by stress from their own lives and have a difficult time coping with the pressures of parenting.
"Everybody says, ‘Make some time for yourself,' and people know that," Trask said. "But then in the reality of their lives, because almost everybody is working and juggling a job and family life, that piece falls by the wayside."
Nass said parenting courses are especially important because family life has changed drastically in recent years. Technological changes and a changing society have led to the loss of extended family, role models and time spent together within families.
"All you have to do is open the newspaper and see the problems that we're having," Nass said. "No matter how parents try, there is lots of competition out there."
For faculty and staff in various stages of parenting, the "Positive Parenting" workshop will act as a support group, Nass said.
Parents are always looking for new information, and can learn from each other by interacting and implementing new skills to use in a group setting.
"That's what I love about the group process- someone will ask a question that you might be thinking," Nass said.
Linda Spotts, a part-time FSAP counselor, attended the class' first session. She hopes to learn ways to avoid making mistakes while raising her 21-month-old daughter.
"The sooner the better to attack any kinds of mistakes I'm making and to learn new skills, new strategies, to better manage her behavior," Spotts said.
Although it is difficult to ignore the "shoulds" of parenting, Nass said the process is less about being a good parent and more about the child. She said her ultimate goal in teaching the workshop is for parents to relax and enjoy raising their children.
"I want them to walk away with the feeling that, ‘Wow, whatever comes into my life, I now have some tools to deal with it,'" Nass said. "I want them to go away feeling confident in themselves and in how to handle all the curveballs that their kids are going to throw them."