‘Parenting Today’ graduates. PHOTOS/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

More often than not, parents are given an abundance of advice on what not to do – but sometimes they just need to know what they can do instead.

Sam Williams, co-ordinator of Proactive Parenting Services at Wairarapa Safer Community Trust, has been a parent educator for 25 years.

She has just finished leading nine parents through her newly-developed course ‘Parenting Today’.

The parents, who graduated recently, were taught listening skills and healthy communication, as well as practical ideas to help manage tricky issues such as childhood lying and stealing, hitting, and aggressive behaviour.

“I think what sets it apart from other courses is that it is quite informal, it’s very interactive, and everybody is welcome,” Sam said.

“Nobody has to meet criteria to come along.”

She said those participating in the course had been “fantastically supportive of each other” and were either referred by agencies or self-referred.

“Parents can be very disempowered in this day and age.

“We have so many things we are not allowed to do.

“Parents are often very aware of what not to do, without being given tools and skills to help them achieve success.”

The graduating group was made up of six mothers, and three fathers, “and they have been really open and honest about sharing their parenting stories and experiences with each other”.

The course involved parents who had children up to the age of 12.

Stefanie Porten and her 1-year-old daughter Eva.

‘Parenting Today’ graduate Stefanie Porten said the course had given her the ability to look at challenges from different angles.

“We have been given useful tools, not just theories that you can’t apply right away,” she said.

“I’ve changed quite a lot, and it’s working.

“We have built self-esteem, we’ve been talking about feelings, and discussing important topics for day-to-day life.

“How do you as adults talk to each other?

“And how would you feel as an adult if someone talked to you the way you sometimes talk to your kids?”

Carterton mum of two Jules Austin said the best skill she learned was how to talk to and listen to her children effectively.

“Rather than it being an instruction, give them choices, and help them be independent in the things they choose to do.

“No one is a perfect parent. Give yourself credit for what you do.

“Spend that quality time with your kids and find the balance between what they need to do and what they want to do.”

Jules said the best advice she could offer another parent was to “not be shy, and ask for help”.

“I was looking for help with some challenging behaviours,” she said.

“Get as many people involved as you can.

“Don’t feel like you are failing because you are asking for help.

“Just keep working until you get it.”

Sam wanted to thank The Salvation Army in Carterton and Masterton who provided the group with resources, food, and the use of their meeting room.