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A catalyst for change in family relationships

Faciliators Joanne Alexander (left) and Nicole Sinclair
Faciliators Joanne Alexander (left) and Nicole Sinclair

I learnt to be a parent from my parents and together with my wife, I had very little problems with my children. However, it’s the grandchildren I cannot handle. I suffer with hypertension and I don’t want that to kill me, so I did the course. It has helped and I am so grateful. I hope more parents participate in this programme. Henderson Matthew, participant.

The St Joseph RC Parish which serves the communities of Mon Repos and Ste Madeleine concluded its Common Sense Parenting (CSP) Programme on the parish feast day, Saturday, March 19. The six-session course, an initiative of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission with funding from Republic Bank is available to all parishes, schools and other groups in Trinidad & Tobago. Our Parish Family Life Unit encouraged by parish priest Fr de la Bastide, CSSp grasped the opportunity to enable and empower parents in our communities. Sponsored by the parish, facilitators Joanne Alexander and Nicole Sinclair had last year participated in the AFLC/Republic Bank CSP Trainers Workshop. This certified them to train parents in the CSP method.

Group of “graduates” with parish priest Fr Peter de la Bastide on March 19.
Group of “graduates” with parish priest Fr Peter de la Bastide on March 19.

The 14 participants comprising grandparents and parents, including one couple, experienced tried, tested and proven methods of successfully raising their children. They immersed themselves in learning practical and effective ways of increasing positive behaviors. Sessions were very interactive and solicited much fun and camaraderie as parents readily approached the “adrenaline zone” to role-play how they would facilitate behavioural change in their children. Weekly assignments comprised utilising skills in everyday parent-child interaction and giving feedback in follow up sessions.

Participants recognised that changing children’s behaviour ultimately calls for parents and grandparents themselves to change their behaviour. “Licks” can be replaced with positive and negative consequences, understanding that praise plays a huge part in positive behavioural change. Rewards do not always have to be financial and material to be effective.

This programme has taught me a lot about staying calm, especially when I am dealing with difficult situations with my children.” – Murica Ashby, participant.

The programme was a success in many ways. As parents received their certificates, they sang praises to CSP, pledging support for each other in their ongoing parenting challenges. They seized the opportunity to reflect on their current style and practices and the need for adjustments in communication and methodology.

This CSP programme should be considered necessary alongside the Catholic Engaged and Marriage Encounter programmes. As a corporate body I have no hesitation in assisting with sponsorship of this programme. Pete Carrington, participant.

Parish Communications Pastoral, St Joseph, Mon Repos/Ste Madeleine

Article appeared in Catholic News, April 3, 2011

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