Parenting is an incredibly difficult job. Children don’t come with instruction manuals and there is no apprenticeship or high school class teaching us how to do it. Moreover, two-thirds of South Carolina adults report having experienced an adverse event as a child.
In short, many parents could use some help. And now more of it is available in Dorchester County.
Thanks to the popularity of their Strengthening Families parenting education program, Dorchester County Alcohol and Drug Commission and the Carolina Teen Center have teamed up to offer a follow-up program of advanced family-building, called Parent Talk, made possible by a grant from the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
“We will hold 18 sessions for parents to reinforce those lessons from Strengthening Families,” says Mary Lynn Tollison, prevention educator at Dorchester County Alcohol and Drug Commission. “Every parent who comes to Parent Talk will be a graduate of the Strengthening Families program.”
The goal of the evidence-based booster program is to help build healthy families that lead to better choices by children, steering away from drug and alcohol dependence. The key to this outcome, research shows, is to reduce risk factors – like family conflict, lack of parental love, care, support and supervision – and increase the number of protective factors, like family bonding, self-control and parental role modeling.
The Parent Talk curriculum will focus on items parents requested: communication, handling stress, life skills and positive discipline. They will set goals on the first day and then measure their progress against them, says Lisa Hart at Carolina Teen Center.
Parent Talk has grown out of the unexpectedly successful Strengthening Families program instituted by the county Alcohol and Drug Commission and the Teen Center, and is funded by S.C. Children’s Trust.
The 14-week Strengthening Families educational series focused on parents and children 6-11 years old. Families were referred by social service and nonprofit agencies. The program served roughly 150 people and nearly all the participants reported spending more time with their children. Three-quarters reported reduced family stress and conflict.
“Families are seeking help raising their children to be healthy, strong individuals who are successful in school., communicate well and live productive, happy lives,” Tollison says.
Danielle Gardner, a parent graduate of the Strengthening Families program, will serve as a parent facilitator of Parent Talk. The sessions are led by certified trainers.
The parents participating in these programs take many forms. Single mothers; fathers with girlfriends; grandparents, aunts and uncles with custody of children, married same-sex parents and other permutations join the traditional mother and father combination at the sessions.
Dorchester County Alcohol and Drug Commission is seeking donations to help support both initiatives, which provide a long-term benefit to all residents of the county. The majority of the funds are used to provide families with meal cards and other rewards for completing program milestones. Corporate sponsorships are also gratefully accepted to support the families involved.
Strengthening Families continues today and is open to any Dorchester County family with children 6-11. To apply for the Strengthening Families program, contact Lisa Hart, 843-364-1463 or Carolina.firstname.lastname@example.org. Child care is provided for children under six.