We are all horrified by stories of extreme child abuse that make the national news. Those abuses are a repellent deviance from anything that we think of as parenting. But, in fact, successfully reducing child neglect and abuse seems to require facing that they are part of the spectrum of parenting. As we see in other programs featured on this site, building up parents rather than making them feel unfit is key. That is what I learned when reading the website of Parents Anonymous. While the core and original mission of Parents Anonymous has been to reduce neglect and abuse, they pursue that mission by helping people handle the broad challenges of parenting and grasp the opportunity to actively build healthy homes and communities.
The Parents Anonymous model and the services it provides across the country are very impressive. Here are a few highlights:
- The organization was founded by a wise single mother and her social worker in 1969.
- Since 1969, Parents Anonymous® Inc. has expanded to address many of the surrounding causes and impacts of neglect and abuse. The additional services include activities for the children, collaboration with local agencies such as Child Protective Services, a National Parents Hotline (staffed 9 hours/day provides support and referrals for handling any stress or issue) and more.
- This list of ways in which a parent benefits from attending the weekly meetings gives a good sense of how holistically Parents Anonymous addresses the issue:
- “discuss my parenting concerns, joys, and questions in a safe, compassionate environment.
- give and receive free, ongoing, confidential support.
- learn new communication skills and effective parenting strategies.
- expand my capacity to effectively advocate for my children’s needs, as well as my own.
- develop my leadership abilities to benefit my family, the Parents Anonymous® Group, and the community.
- benefit from ongoing training, coaching and technical assistance, and program materials.
- build on my parenting and leadership strengths.
- cultivate positive relationships with other parents, and foster shared leadership® in my community.
- learn about community resources that can benefit myself, my children and family.”
- A You Tube Video of ABC News with coverage of a study that found that yelling at a teen can have the same impact as hitting them. This research finding highlights that even behaviors that many do not consider abusive can be damaging to a child.
There is much more to read at http://parentsanonymous.org
Lisa Potts, who is CEO of FamilyCorps (http://www.paofsc.org/programs/) the South Carolina organization of Parents Anonymous, wrote in to let us all know about that organization and its work. She noted in particular that the model and related tools are made available to qualified organizations nationwide for free. Many thanks to Lisa Potts for the information on this program!