The IRC Youth Program Facilitates Parenting Support Group
IRC Baltimore celebrated the culmination of the first ever parenting support group with lessons in lasagna cooking and la phet thote (pickled tea leaf salad) and noodle soup. The Youth Program at the IRC in Baltimore began facilitation of a parent support program in February 2012. The workshops are two hours long for a ten session program. The participants rotate the responsibility of hosting the workshops in their home.
A total of 23 Burmese attended at least one session during the first cohort. The curriculum is based off of the Family Tree healthy parenting curriculum and a book called How to talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich. Emily Fishbein, IRC Youth Caseworker uses a participatory approach in which the parents are encouraged to lead the discussions and provide the answers to each other’s questions whenever possible. She also emphasizes that there is no “right answer,” but that there are a variety of different approaches to parenting, which may work in different ways for every family. The curriculum includes lessons on active listening, how to encourage cooperation and positive behavior, how to respond when your child comes to you with a problem, how to support your child in school, and how adjustment to US culture affects youth and families. Each week includes a discussion/story sharing on a particular issue, presentation of some evidence-based recommendations, and a role-play/ case study activity in which participants work in pairs to present ways to address a given problem they might be facing at home, using prompts which the facilitator provides.
Some of the questions asked by the parents that were addressed during the session were, “What do the teachers expect from students and how can my child do well in school,” “How can I learn about U.S. holidays and traditions? My children feel sad when they don’t celebrate like American children or wear special dress for American holidays,” and What are the advantages and disadvantages of watching TV?
During the workshops, the parents revealed the need to learn more English as a way to engage their children and utilize some of these techniques. Emily is coordinating access to small group tutoring sessions to respond to this need. Currently, the second session of parenting workshops are underway for Bhutanese parents facilitated by Christian Banzadio, IRC Youth Caseworker.