Minister of Family, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)

Government’s Parenting Support and Education Programme will move a step closer to its introduction when the 19 trainers who are expected to execute the project complete their training next week, paving the way for roll out in September.

The 11-week training session will end next Wednesday, August 5, when the trainers receive certificates of participation from the Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, after she delivers a closing address during a ceremony in the main conference room of the Ministry of Education and Resource Development.

Manuals will be prepared within the next few weeks which the trainers will use in their programming. Additionally, the trainers will tailor their individual programmes to meet the specific needs of parents in their communities.

Senior Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Family, Marva Howell, said the training was for all parents, whether young or mature. "Parenting is a role that no one in the world can prepare a person for, even if one is of a legal or advanced age … and parents do come to the Ministry with various issues," Ms. Howell explained.

She stressed that those who were interested in participating in the training would soon be able to register at the Ministry.

The Parenting Education and Support Programme is one of Government’s flagship projects, designed to foster and support strong family units. It is aimed at offering parents the necessary knowledge and skills which will empower them to comfortably and confidently raise their children. It is also expected to equip them with the tools needed to develop healthy relationships within their households, communicate effectively and encourage parent to child interaction.

The Senior Administrative Officer said: "We appreciate that all families will be different, but we believe that there are certain positive parenting traits that anyone can apply to ensure that children are raised in an environment fit for them to be able to fulfill their maximum potential."

She pointed out that before introducing the programme, the Ministry undertook preliminary research which showed that there was a need for parent counselling, education and support sessions. She explained that meetings were held with major stakeholders, including the Child Care Board and the Ministry of Health; as well as focus groups with primary school teachers and guidance counsellors to get feedback on the project.????????

"We also did a small sample survey with men and women, where we surveyed 200 parents or soon-to-be parents. Coming out of the study, the 32 per cent of the males and 68 per cent of the females who participated identified some of the areas they needed help in as coping with stress, managing finances, dealing with adolescents and how to discipline children.

"So, within the programme, we are going to show them alternatives to using corporal punishment and give them information so they can better cope in some of the areas that they highlighted as a need to know," she stated.

Government has allocated over $400,000 this financial year for the programme; and 240 parents are expected to be trained in the broad areas of parenting, coping and managing, finding self and seeking help.

The Minister of Family, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo is on record as stating that this programme "is urgently needed", especially since some mothers and fathers could be described as "parents by default".

She noted that: "too many parents have thrown their hands in the air with their teenagers, because they sometimes don’t know how to cope and communicate with them."

Dr. Byer Suckoo noted that there was a time when she "constantly saw parents, who were at their wits end, stressed out and desperate, knowing that they were failing miserably to supply their children’s needs, and even at times unable to take care of themselves".

She, therefore, stressed that while the programme would not be a panacea, it would assist in healing some of the ills and pains that parents were forced to deal with on a daily basis.

So, as Government prepares to arm parents across the island with some of the requisite skills to improve their parenting techniques and family relationships, they are being encouraged to be a part of this multi-faceted programme and reap the personal benefits that should accrue from it.

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