Centre aims to build healthy families

Myrna-lee Joubert and her niece Shobian Baartman, 5, of Lentegeur at the indaba.

The Parent Centre hosted its quarterly parents’ indaba at Lentegeur library on Thursday March 16.

The aim was to equip residents with knowledge they can use to build healthier families.

The Parent Centre, which is based in Wynberg, hosts weekly support groups in Mitchell’s Plain.

Librarian Jeraine Bendie said there is definitely a need in the community for this type of support.

“We hope that they will make use of our space at the library on a regular basis. They are really making a difference in the lives of Mitchell’s Plain residents who are grappling with socio-economic, family and parenting issues.”

At the meeting, attended by more than 30 residents, facilitator Berenice Scott explained why children behave the way they do and gave parents suggestions on how to approach these challenges.

“Children behave in a certain way depending on a variety of factors. In many instances, parents tend to stereotype their children into specific gender roles. Each of us also has a different life experience which plays a role in the behaviour of a child. It’s important for parents to look at the context in which the child misbehaves.”

She touched on how parents’ expectations can be detrimental to the child.

“Parents need to be realistic in their expectations. Sometimes parents have very high expectations and don’t give their children detailed instructions. Competition is another factor to look at. I would like to encourage parents not to give their children lavish praise because it could be detrimental to them when you go out into the world. Instead of saying your child has the best drawing in the world rather say you really like their use of colour when they draw, which is using a descriptive praise,” she said.

Lentegeur resident Myrna-lee Joubert listened attentively to the talk and told the Plainsman the lessons she learnt will help her a lot when dealing with her children, who are aged six and 11.

“I now have the tools to understand them better and deal with their behaviour in a more constructive way. This is my first time here and I will definitely be back. I really enjoyed the indaba because it was interactive and fun,” she said.

Shariefa Jansen, a social worker for the Parent and Community Empowering and Support (PACES) team, at The Parent Centre, said: “If someone wants to become a social worker or doctor they need to study and hone their craft. However, when it comes to parenting there is no institution that guides people to become parents. I’m passionate about how we cope and deal as parents. Socialisation plays a big part in a person’s life. What you observed as a child from your parents is usually how you would approach raising your own children.”

Ms Jansen said, however, people do evolve and tailor-make their own parenting styles.

“Nobody is perfect and we focus on people in the community becoming a good enough parent. It doesn’t put pressure and an expectation on the parents to become this perfect parent.”

The Parent Centre also hosts support groups in Khayelitsha and Nyanga.

Ms Jansen said she co-ordinates the support groups in Mitchell’s Plain.

“We offer support groups and positive parenting skills training in Lentegeur, Portland and Tafelsig. I also co-ordinate groups in Retreat and Bonteheuwel and we are thinking about starting a support group in Ocean View. We know there is a need in the community, however, the work that we do is highly dependent on funding as we are an NPO.”

She said they offer support, counselling and if needed “deeper intervention”.

“If we empower the parent, the parent and child relationship will eventually improve.”

She advised parents across the city that they don’t have to feel that they have failed if they don’t have a perfect relationship with their children or there is dysfunctionality in the home. “If your child starts doing drugs it doesn’t mean that you were a bad mother. Yes, there might be different contributing factors but what parent would like to see their child abuse drugs.”

She told parents that they are never too old to learn new parenting styles.

“Parents are very hard on themselves. If your way of parenting didn’t work, The Parent Centre can help in giving people a paradigm shift. I sat on many support groups and I was blown away from the responses from parents.”

The support groups happen every alternate Wednesday from 10am to 1pm. Tea, coffee and snacks are served.

Call Berenice Scott on 021 762 0116 or visit www.theparentcentre.org.za for more information.