JIS News

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Jamaica Solution to Youth Lifestyle and Empowerment Project, today (Feb. 5) launched a parenting intervention package, which was developed to build better parenting skills, especially for parents with adolescents.
The parenting package, which was launched at the Knutsford Court Hotel, comprises a parenting curriculum, a good parenting calendar, a parenting handbook and also a copy of the project theme song titled: ‘Love in the family’, which was written by members of the Youth Advocacy Network.
In explaining the need for a parenting curriculum, Dr. Kim Scott-Fisher, USAID Consultant, says it is clear that parents are suffering and are not getting adequate support. “Sometimes, it is not for the lack of love or will. It is the lack of skills, the lack of time and sometimes, just how they (parents) have been parented themselves. It is often easy for parents to throw up their hands in the air especially at the time when the children start to hit 10, 11, 12 years of age,” Dr. Scott-Fisher says.
The curriculum, she informs, is intended to be used among parenting groups, so as to increase parents’ knowledge and confidence in their ability to more effectively guide their adolescents.
She explains that Units one and two of the curriculum deal with core mandatory training, with Unit one looking at laying the foundation, setting reasonable parenting goals and effective discipline. Unit two, on the other hand, involves the training of parents in 10 adolescent developmental tasks, including building positive self-esteem, helping the adolescent to communicate effectively, developing morals and values, and exploring positive sexuality. “This unit really speaks to how we help our teenagers to develop positive and healthy sexuality, how do they express intimacy and how do they get into relationships and foster supportive peer friendship,” she outlines. The unit also addresses problem solving and decision making, anger management, conflict resolution and how the adolescent is able to re-negotiate their roles and responsibilities as they grow towards adulthood, she adds. Unit three of the curriculum speaks directly to sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and pregnancy prevention, while Unit four looks at abuse and violence prevention in the home. Unit five addresses the prevention of drug and alcohol use and Unit six covers dealing with grief from migration, separation and divorce. In the meantime, Rev. Ian Muirhead, pastor of the Upper Room Community Church, who gave a testimonial on the parenting manual and the effects it has had on the community of Grant’s Pen says: “it has been really interesting and exciting.” He says that through the acquisition of a public address system under the project, persons in the community do not have to come to meetings to learn about proper parenting techniques.
“One lady, when she was walking past the actual venue and I asked her if she was not going to sit with us to hear what we had to say, she said ‘every night I have been listening to you while I am in my bed and I hear everything that is being said and I am really learning’,” Rev. Muirhead relates. In terms of the actual teaching approach, Rev. Muirhead says drama, small group interactions, films and power point presentations are being utilized in the session. Meanwhile, Dr. Karen Hilliard, Mission Director, USAID, says that the challenges that young people face today are far more complex than “some of us experienced when we were growing up.” “Today’s youths are heavily influenced by their peers and by the media. The vast number of young people exposed to crime, substance abuse and early sexual initiation is alarming,” she bemoans. She notes that “youths of today need to be empowered to turn these issues around, as it will soon be their responsibility, as they prepare to take their places in the public and private sectors, to design and implement solutions to these problems.” She argues further that in order for young people to become good leaders and make positive and well-informed decisions, parents have to give them the guidance that they need and set positive examples, for them to follow. According to Dr. Hilliard, the manual provides a complete set of tools that can be used among all literacy levels. “Most importantly, the material offers encouragement, after all parenting is just not easy. It is not easy to engage your children when it comes to puberty and safer sex practices,” Dr. Hilliard says.
She encourages parents to “use these parenting resources in your communities, share them with your friends, your neighbours, co-workers. All parents deserve to be able to access this material, and we as a community have a responsibility to young people and their parents to make that happen.”

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