Parents are busy people. Many are overwhelmed.
Even when you offer a parenting event, many of these people don't
come. How can you help parents who are so pre-occupied that they
don't get much needed advice about raising their children?
In order to help answer this question we've identified three
groups of parents you work with.
1 • Parents
who are eager for more
These parents are with you and will participate in most anything
you offer in the area of parenting. They want more and you
can go out of your way to provide them with extra tools. For more ideas click
2 • Parents
who don't see the need for help yet
These parents feel like they have everything under control, and
maybe they do, for the moment. They have the tools they need
to do the job and don't want more input right now.
3 • Parents who are too busy or overwhelmed to get help
These parents care about their kids but they've given up, or
they feel like their children are just bad kids and family
life seems rather hopeless. Sometimes these parents have other
responsibilities that rob them of time for parenting and
the task of raising the kids is pushed off onto others like
the school or church.
for Groups Two and Three
Below is a growing list of suggestions to help parents who don't
typically seek help. We'd love to hear your ideas and we'll continue to
add to this list.
1 • Understand
the cycle of need. Parents often go through a typical cycle.
Everything seems to be under control. Then a crisis happens drawing
energy from other things to the parenting issues in order to
regain control. Either the equilibrium is restored or a new sense
of "normal" is
established. Parents then go back to doing what is urgent or
routine. If you're offering regular parenting events and activities,
and if you're continually reaching out to all parents, you'll
attract new participants in your parenting program as they find
themselves in the "need help" part of the cycle.
So keep planning events and continue to invite all parents to
come to them.
2 • Among
the choices for parent help, offer short events requiring just
an evening or one weekend. Many parents who feel overwhelmed
experience the time crunch and don't want to commit to something
3 • Offer
longer term parenting help. An eight-week class or thirteen-week
parenting elective might be just the thing that helps a parent
who feels like there are no simple solutions. Some parents know
they need a lot of help and are willing to sacrifice
their other activities for a season in order to focus on parenting.
A longer term event can be attractive because it gives more
time to learn new skills and develop new supportive friendships.
4 • Promote
events appealing to the needs of hurting parents. You might use
words like "hopeless," "survival mode," "others
don't understand my situation," "when doing the best
I can isn't working," or "overwhelmed" to describe
the problem. Be sure to offer hope by talking about new ways to
approach common problems. Emphasize the reality that many parents
experience the same kinds of obstacles and there are real and relevant
5 • Use
a testimony approach to promotion by having a parent share about
his or her own feelings of frustration and how a parenting class
or small group helped. This feeling approach doesn't talk about
actual technique but identifies with the felt needs that parents
6 • Make
the invitations personal by talking about practical solutions you
think might work with a particular son or daughter. After all,
teachers and youth workers work with lots of children and can often
see what a child might need. Sharing those specific observations
can bring hope to a parent who may be resigned to the status quo.
7 • As
you have success drawing parents in to parent training, please
tell us what worked and we'll add new ideas to this list. Send
them to firstname.lastname@example.org.