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Monday, May 9, 2011

Free Parenting Group in Guerneville

Free Parenting Group

By Donna Roper
Are you admitting to being a bad parent if you ask for help? By my definition asking for help means you are not a bad parent, you are seeking to become a better one. Have you ever met a perfect parent? They are about as common as unicorns. Here is some information about the new parenting group forming in Guerneville. The group is currently offered free at 8:30 AM Friday mornings at Guerneville School.

When you join us you will be asked to introduce yourself and tell a bit about your family and household. The others in the group will do the same. You will come to know who has kids the same age as yours and who has them full time or part time or only for visits. Some will be working toward increasing the time they spend with their children after a family crisis. Some will be single moms or dads; some will be parenting with a partner, some with a grandparent, some as grandparents parenting one more time. Some will have a young first child, some with several school age children or some with teenagers. Each will have different stories and many will have challenges and successes similar to your own. Your story will be heard with respect and kept confidential; you will decide for yourself what to share.

Information is offered on topics such as what to expect at each stage of development and how aspects of each of our (both parent and child) basic personalities can affect parenting and learning styles. There are tip sheets about handling common difficulties. You will be encouraged to bring specific challenges to the group for suggestions and feedback. There are opportunities to practice new strategies. There is about an hour dedicated to presentation of a topic and an hour to use as the group chooses. Sometimes that will be to offer support for a parent’s challenging situation, sometimes to discuss the topic of the day more fully, sometimes to gather information about a topic that a group member is curious about or to practice role playing with each other.

Much of the information presented comes from the Positive Parenting Program (“Triple P”) that is being introduced statewide in California. This program focuses on increasing positive interactions parents have with children, recognizing that the need for discipline is naturally reduced as a result and offering effective strategies for dealing with challenges. When discipline is needed it is always in the interest of teaching the child self-regulation, communication and appropriate behavior.. “The challenge for parents is to avoid accidentally rewarding difficult behavior and to start rewarding the behavior you want to encourage.” wrote Dr. Matthew Sanders, author of Every Parent, and Founder of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program.

There is also information on ways to reduce the likelihood of violence in families and in society. There are surveys to take to help in gaining an understanding of personality types, yours and your child’s, and how each of you recharges, gathers and processes information and makes decisions. This allows you to tailor your parenting to be more effective as well as to discover ways to take better care of yourself. All of the above and more is offered with the recognition that no parent is (or should expect to be) perfect and that each of us knows our own family best and is free to adapt the strategies to best suit themselves in the present.

This challenge is really for us to change the way we see the world, what we focus on, learning to look for and acknowledge the positive. As we practice doing this with our children, showing them what we DO want rather than repeating what we don’t want, catching them being “good” and letting them know we have noticed, we begin to feel more gratitude for the positive things we have in our lives in general, beginning a new habit of mind perhaps. Scientists that study the brain are seeing that dwelling on the positive and the good feelings it brings to us can actually change the levels of brain chemicals that improve our mood. What a great “side effect” of positive parenting!

This group is offered by Russian River Counselors in co-operation with River to Coast Children’s Services. It is facilitated by D. Breeze Holloway, MA who has been certified by Triple P and by ACT Against Violence parenting program, and is raising five children of her own. Parents who need to be a little late due to dropping children at another school are welcome! To join the group, please call 865-1200 Ext. 103 and leave a message.

This group is only the newest addition to the services offered in support of families by the counseling intern at RCCS and the therapists at Russian River Counseling. There are counseling services offered at both agencies for families that need more individualized attention, for individuals, couples and the whole family together, offered on a sliding scale to accommodate all income levels.