Claire is the mother of two toddlers and three teenagers, and she worries about them constantly. It doesn’t matter if she’s at work, or at home where she can see them – and her worries are only getting bigger as her teenagers are growing older. Especially now that they’re often so contentious with her: their anger makes it near impossible not to respond with anger of her own, even if it makes her feel so guilty afterward. It leaves her questioning whether she’s a good enough mother. She’s at a loss: How can she get them to listen without losing her cool – or prompting them to lose theirs?
Parenting is hard, even on the best of days. It’s an enormous responsibility, and each age comes with its own unique challenges – so that once you finally master a particular developmental conundrum, your child grows into a whole new one for you to figure out. On top of that, most parents feel stretched thin between their responsibilities at home and in their jobs. When you work hard to support your family, it can be difficult to find time to spend with your kids – and even more difficult to make sure that time is positive. When you’re tired at the end of a long day, how do you muster the energy to manage misbehavior and tantrums with patience, even if you know that frustration only breeds more outbursts? And when you’re dealing with stress of your own, how do you maintain the emotional capacity to help your kids deal with theirs?
A little bit of support and guidance can go a long way toward helping parents feel more confident and capable. With that in mind, a collaborative of local nonprofits and County agencies – including Cope Family Center, Napa NEWS, Child Start, ParentsCAN, Queen of the Valley, the UpValley Family Centers, local school districts, and Napa County Health & Human Services – is working together to run a countywide network of resources for parents. It’s called the Positive Parenting Program, or Triple P.
Used in communities across the globe, the Triple P model focuses on establishing a positive relationship between parent and child. It helps parents provide a safe and encouraging environment for their kids; set clear ground rules and consistent consequences for misbehavior; create realistic, age-appropriate expectations for their kids; and – last, but not least – take care of themselves as parents. The program offers a range of resources for families, from seminars and workshops to tip sheets that help navigate specific challenges, like bedwetting, toddler tantrums, or teen social media use.
Beyond supporting parents with the everyday challenges of raising kids, Triple P can also help them guide their kids through more serious ones – things like substance use, a parent’s illness, or other experiences that produce the kind of “toxic stress” that can affect a child’s health and wellbeing for the rest of their lives. Studies show that parents or primary caregivers can play a uniquely powerful role in mitigating the impact of these ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences.’ To that end, the Triple P model offers these parents the tools they need to be a stabilizing, uplifting force for their kids – so they can grow into happy, resilient adults.
With funding from the Napa County Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (which in California is used to fund a wide scope of public health prevention programs), the Napa County Triple P Collaborative has brought these resources to local families. In the past year alone, 595 parents benefited from Triple P resources through one of the collaborative’s partner agencies.
As part of this network, the UpValley Family Centers has four bilingual Triple P practitioners on staff: Two who work with families who have children ages 0 to 12, and two who work with families who have teens. Like Triple P practitioners elsewhere, the primary challenge that UVFC staff are seeing Calistoga parents face is overwhelm. Working hard to provide for their family, they simply have little time or energy left at the end of the day to devote to their kids. And so our main priority is to make sure that what little time parents do get to spend with their kids becomes quality time.
Through information sessions, workshops, and even individual consultations, we help parents figure out how they can prioritize time with their kids – to read books together, or even just to talk. We also support parents in setting clear ground rules for the home, because that kind of structure creates the clarity you need for positive interaction. And we help parents identify the supports and self-care practices they need to feel strong and present, so that they can manage their kids’ feelings and (mis)behavior with consistency and patience.
Claire says the biggest benefit she derived from her Triple P workshop was confidence – the confidence to be patient, realistic, clear, and consistent about the ground rules and consequences she set for her kids at home. “My kids used to think I was being dramatic, just telling them what to do and threatening ‘punishments.’ Now I try to be more clear about why the rules are there, and I talk about ‘consequences’ rather than ‘punishments.’ Because that’s what it is – something that comes after an action. I won’t say that I never explode anymore, because I’m human. But it’s become much easier.”
UVFC’s parenting classes and consultations take place at our offices, at the schools, and in the community. If you’d like to learn more about the Triple P program and how it might support you as a parent – or if you are interested in hosting a Triple P presentation in your home or business, please give us a call at (707) 965-5010.