Part of PRAXES’ success with parents is its focus on The Three E’s: engagement, expectations, and empowerment. For parents to become healthier, these are important skills that are discussed with the parent empowerment training.
Too often in treatment, a practitioner is only too eager to spend all of their time in the first session talking to a parent about their program and how it’s going to fix all their problems.
Put yourself in the shoes of a parent of a child with attention problems. They’re frustrated, yet very proud. They’ve been through a lot with their child, from birth to the current time, dealing with the everyday frustration and behavior problems. They don’t want someone to walk into their lives right away and tell them what to do. It makes them feel defensive and unwilling to listen or participate.
Without parent engagement in the process, neither PRAXES nor any parenting practice will work. PRAXES teaches the practitioner to spend more time in the beginning to listen to the parent. Get to know them, let them tell their story, and find out about how they view their child, their parenting skills, and the goals they have for themselves and their child. The parent also needs to discuss what their motivation is for the program. With this informal approach in the beginning, the parent feels heard and becomes a partner in their care. This leads to better compliance and outcomes in treatment.
When a child is born or adopted by their parent, all their hopes and dreams of what that child will become are also born. Based upon their own views of parenting, from viewing others and from their own family, the parent will have beliefs of how they should be a parent and what to expect of their child. In most examples, how the child behaves and how the parent expects them to behave are not far off.
But what happens when a child has special needs? What if the child doesn’t follow directions like others, or doesn’t develop as quickly as other children? This leads to unrealistic expectations, which turn into higher levels of stress, and more problems between child and parent.
PRAXES asks parents to review these expectations. Because not only do parents of children with special needs have unrealistic views of their child, but also the same applies with them. The parent feels worthless, guilty, depressed for not being a “good enough” parent. Through grief and loss, child development, and mental health education sessions, the parent learns how to move toward accepting their child and themselves as they are. This acceptance bridges the gap between child and parent, making them more of a team and partners in the child’s development.
With many of the parents who are referred to a mental health or child welfare agency, they’ve been poked and prodded so often they’re tired. Tired of someone else telling them what’s wrong with them and how to fix their lives. It’s no wonder many of our parents and caregivers feel powerless, helpless, and too willing to let someone else take care of their problems.
Studies have shown that higher levels of stress occur in individuals who feel their lives are out of their control. The waitress or assembly worker, who constantly are told what to do, experience more pressure than their bosses, who have more autonomy in their lives. The same is true with our parents. We don’t want them to be victims of the social service system; we want their lives to be their own.
PRAXES works with parents to reclaim their power over themselves and their families. Learning stress management techniques, how to assert themselves, and how to advocate for their children are some of the skills they develop over the course of their participation in the practice. As they reach the end, they reclaim their lives and sense of purpose. Their levels of stress reduce as well as their competence in rearing their child.