Although I spend a lot of time these days either researching or discussing the results of research, I love having the chance to work with families and speak with parents in many different parts of the world. Over the past year, I’ve been able to travel to different cities in regional Queensland to do some Triple P seminars, which is especially gratifying since it was where Triple P began more than 30 years ago.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT – READ THIS BIT, EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE KIDS
In that time, one of the things we’ve observed is that positive parenting seems to be a bit like a post on Facebook or a YouTube video – once it becomes shared by a certain number of people, it begins to ‘go viral’. As more and more people talk about parenting and about positive parenting strategies, the ripple effect extends out beyond individual families and across whole communities. This is something we’re continuing to research, but it is pretty exciting and rewarding stuff to be part of.
So whether or not you’ve done Triple P, if you’re a parent or know someone who is, I’d encourage you to think about how you can help bring about positive change in the way families deal with parenting challenges. This applies whether or not you have kids. Yes, you read that correctly. When families function better, when children grow up in environments that foster learning at school, being able to regulate their emotions and behave considerately toward others, everyone’s better off.
FIRST, LET’S ALL GET REAL
Firstly, if you’re a parent, can you ‘get real’ with others and stop trying to present a picture of perfection to the world? When you share what’s going on behind closed doors, whether it’s yelling, crying, struggling, feeling isolated, or just having the occasional bad day, this opens the door for other parents to share with you.
In cafes, playgrounds, schools, sporting clubs, shopping centre, restaurants, parks, how can we talk about parenting to other parents in a non-threatening way? It’s like we need a secret sign – a way for parents to let each other know they understand that parenting can be difficult and we’re all up against our own challenges on any given day. A smile is a good start. “Difficult day?”, “been there”, or “I can relate” lets another parent know you understand.
LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE TO LEARN NEW STRATEGIES
But it’s not about dwelling on the negative. If someone is really struggling, one of the hardest things to do is to believe that things can get better, and then to ask for help. Maybe you’re in that situation yourself. But it can be tricky knowing what to say to someone who’s finding parenting really challenging. People usually don’t want to hear advice they didn’t ask for.
So whether or not you’re a parent, one thing you can help explain to others is that Triple P is not about telling parents what to do – it’s about finding out what’s working, what’s maybe not going so well, and ideas and strategies that can be tried if they suit your family.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOMETHING BIG?
What we can do together is so much bigger than what we can do on our own. By connecting with other parents and becoming more positive, more knowledgeable about what works, and more skilled and confident in our parenting, not just as individuals but as neighbourhoods, communities and a society, we’re doing something amazing.
Good parenting skills don’t just help parents and kids, they help adult relationships, reduce stress at work, and help us all to function better.
It’s about building a really fantastic future for everyone. And you can be a person who is a parenting champion in your community, in your workplace, in your extended family, in your network. How's that for a positive way to start 2017?