I am a Field Officer for the Department of Child Protection in Western Australia. I was searching the internet for resources to assist some of our families with parenting teenagers and came across your web site - can you please provide any additional details of the content of your online parenting program.
Department for Child Protection
Online Parent Support (OPS) is a program designed specifically for parents of strong-willed or out-of-control adolescent children. OPS provides the practical and emotional support parents need to change destructive adolescent behavior.
The straightforward, step-by-step action plans presented in the curriculum allow parents to take immediate steps toward preventing or intervening in their children's negative choices. Parents involved with OPS have the opportunity to experience success at home within the first week.
The curriculum teaches concrete prevention, identification, and intervention strategies for the most destructive of adolescent behaviors. Parents cycle through programming quickly, thus reducing the length of time that (a) effective solutions in parenting are implemented and (b) resultant positive change in adolescent behavior is experienced.
Myths and Misconceptions about Online Parent Support (OPS)--
It is only for people who do not know anything about parenting.
Being the parent of a teen has never been easy, but now it can seem like the most difficult job anyone could ever have! Times have changed and so have teens. Teens are a lot more complex than in times' past. Ask any parent and they will tell you that they could use a little help in raising their teens to be healthy and responsible adults. All parents can find something of value in OPS. It provides important communication skills and disciplinary techniques to those parents who want to (a) improve relations with their ever-changing teen, (b) decrease parent-child conflict in the home, and (c) assist in greatly reducing their child's emotional and behavioral problems.
It is only for parents who have "bad" kids.
We hear so much about bad kids on TV and the news that sometimes it seems like this whole generation of kids have gone astray. The truth is that the vast majority of today's teens are really good kids. However, even good kids and great parents can run into problems. Perfect children and perfect families only exist in movies and on television. OPS recognizes this fact and is designed to offer sound, practical help for the majority of parents and the majority of kids. We understand that families who have teens with multiple problems require more help than what they can provide. For that reason, we routinely assist families and teens to find the additional help they need.
It is mainly for parents who have young kids or babies.
If it seems like most of the books and programs on parenting deal with young kids and babies, you are right. One reason is because the early years of a child's life are the most important for establishing a sound foundation. The other reason is because working with (and writing about) young kids and babies is a whole lot easier than doing the same for teens. Think about it. Babies and young kids do not have sex. They do not get pregnant. They do not drive cars. They do not smoke, drink nor do drugs. They do not hang out with gangs. They do not have a tenth of the problems that teens face. Parents of teens need programs too, but not the same kind of programs that are meant for parents of young kids and babies. Finding a program specifically designed for parents of teens is not that easy. This is why we have developed OPS.
It is not in touch with reality.
As much as we would like to return to a better time, we can never turn back the clock. The reality is that times will never be like the 1950's. Unlike the 1950's, where two-parent households were the norm, the majority of households today are headed by a single parent. We recognize that, in the real world, the mother is usually the only parent in the home. Furthermore, we know that single moms have multiple kids to take care of and multiple responsibilities to fulfill.
It won't affirm my cultural values.
Most authors tend to write about the culture they know best. Because it is the predominant culture in this country, most authors of programs and books write about white, middle-class families. As a result, some programs may not be sensitive to the cultural differences of minority populations. In the past ten years, there has been a rapid movement towards making programs more culturally relevant to different populations. We pay attention to how different cultures raise their kids and have adapted OPS to match.
It will treat parents like they were kids in school.
Most programs are educational. Some educational programs have been adapted from school-based programs. Some educational programs are often taught by teachers (who may be more used to working with kids than with adults). These programs could cause parents to feel as if they are back in school, and that may not be a good thing. As you will learn, not all programs are educational programs, and not all programs are like classes in high school. OPS is a support program that includes online counseling. More importantly, though, OPS is designed for parents of all educational levels -- and will never make parents feel like kids.
It will take too much time to complete.
OPS consists of 4 sessions which will take parents approximately 90 minutes each session to complete. That's the good news. The bad news is that you may miss something you need if you decide not take advantage of OPS. The parenting of teens covers a wide range of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Parenting of teens involves far more than just picking up a few tricks. We want to cover some important communication skills and disciplinary techniques. This will take a few sessions to cover effectively. Some parents, when asked if they have ever been in a family program before, may answer, "Yes I have, and I did not find it helpful." On closer examination, one may find that these parents did not attend their program long enough to get out of it what they needed to know and to practice.
Whoever developed this program probably thinks that spanking is child abuse or tells parents they can't spank their kids.
OPS does not promote the idea that spanking is child abuse. When done in the heat of anger though, spanking often does lead to physical abuse. While spanking may be appropriate for some young kids, most counselors, social workers, and psychologists will tell you that physical punishment is not appropriate for teens. Rather than having it escalate into abuse (or, in some cases, result in retaliation by the teen), we discourage spanking as a method of discipline. Instead, we offer parents several alternatives to spanking. Sometimes, these alternatives are not as quick and easy to apply as a good whipping, but neither will they be potentially damaging to the teen physically, emotionally or psychologically.
It won't work.
The research says otherwise. Not only does OPS work, it often creates dramatic improvements in the lives of families in a few short weeks. Parenting programs have been around for fifty years, and the reason for their longevity is because they do help parents cope with their kids. Parenting is one of the most important roles we can have, yet we have to learn about it on our own without formal training. What we know about parenting comes from the direct experience with our parents as kids. Some of what worked for us when we were kids will also work for our own kids. On the other hand, some of what worked for us will not work for our kids.
OPS will provide you with a range of ideas (both new and old) that have been tested and proven to work with today's teens. Like any new skill, practice makes perfect. We encourage, but cannot control how often a parent will practice putting new skills into use. What you get out of it is what you put into it.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
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