Strengthening Families Program

Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Cummins family - Craig and Julieta (Kristine 5th grade, Matthew 3rd grade, Sarah 1st grade)

The Strengthening Families program for youth ages 10-14 and their parent/ parents met again the Alta. The Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14, a parent, youth, and family skills-building curriculum.

The seven-week program , in its sixth week, helps families build strong family relationships. Research shows that protective parenting improves the relationship between parents and youth and decreases the level of family conflict, contributing to lower levels of substance use.

Week six's lesson -

* Parents - Protecting Against X=Substance Abuse

-- Help protect their youth against drug and alcohol abuse - risk and protective factors

-- Learn Ways to interact effectively with the youth's school - supporting their youth in school and your rights as a parent

- How to monitor their youth - discussions of who, what, when, and where and things you can do to prevent substance abuse

* Youth - Peer Pressure and Good Friends

- Additional skills for resisting peer pressure - how alcohol and drugs keep us from reaching goals

-- What good friends are like

* Family - Families and Peer Pressure

- Talk together about avoiding drug and alcohol abuse

- Talk together about other behavioral problems

- Set clear expectations for the youth

The youth this week worked on how to handle peer pressure. This is the second week of a two part lesson that continued on from last week's session. The youth watched videos and role-played using the nine steps to take when being pressured by a peer. These nine steps they practiced are: to ask questions, name the problem, tell what could happen, suggest another route, start on their way, tell them to join you, stay calm and cool, say your friend's name, and say "listen to me." Each youth went home with a door hanger listing the nine steps so that they can review them on their own in the future.

A game the youth played was "Goin Fishin." In this game, the goal is to help young people see the difference between the behavior of good friends and those who are not-so-good friends. The youth fished for qualities of friends by throwing a line with a clothespin attached over a blanket. The youth sitting behind the blanket attach a fish with traits of a good friend or traits of a bad friend. The youth that was fishing pulls his line back over the blanket and decides if his fish is a keeper or not. If it is a keeper, it is clipped to a clothesline (stringer). If it is not a keeper (not a good friend), then it is tossed in a bucket.

The families started out with "Reaching Our Goals" game, where a parent and their youth are tied together at the ankle. They must follow the directions on the Youth and/or Parent card. Each one reads their card and must either move ahead, stay in place, or take steps back on a 4 square grid taped out on the floor. It gets a little tricky when the parent and youth draw cards that are not alike, for example the parent moves 2 steps forward but the youth is to take one step back. Since they are tied at the ankles, it becomes a game that looks like Twister, with the exception that a non-participating can hand them an "I'll Save You" card so that they can stand side by side rather than being so far apart.

This week's family is the Cummins family.

"We saw a helpful role-play video about how to question your youth when they are going out," commented Craig. "We need to be very persistent about knowing who they are with, where they are, what they are doing, and when they will return. Boundaries need to be set. Kids with boundaries have less chance of getting involved in drinking and drugs.

"I learned something very helpful during these 7 weeks that I won't soon forget. Placing limits on the kids actually empowers them to set limits on themselves when it comes to drugs and alcohol. If the child is not used to following rules and having limits at home, then when the friend offers them drugs someday they have no mechanism "built-in" to say no. If their parents always gave in when they begged and pleaded for something then they will certainly give in when they are persistently offered drugs or alcohol someday. This little tidbit of information makes my parenting a lot easier. I am firm now in keeping and enforcing the rules with the children, whereas earlier I was way too lenient and I "gave-in" too much. I have a good reason to be give them the tools to reject bad things and temptations that will surely come their way soon.

"Overall I am happy that we had this opportunity to be with our daughter in this unique learning environment. Each week she was happy to go to the class and participated very well. We know that she and I can talk about these important issues now. We have this experience in common."

Julieta added, "This program is an excellent opportunity to learn more about our teens and needs, and gives us several options to help them in their journey to adulthood. I want to see my three children succeeding with love and happiness, that's why this course was very interesting from the beginning and has been a great help to me."