A Guide for Conducting Parenting With Dignity Classes
Getting Your PWD Class Started
(Please print this and use it as your plan!)
Watch the segment labeled “Lesson 10” as part of this planning process.
First of all, it is important to recognize this commonly held but obviously false idea in the heads many parents: "Attending a parenting class is an admission that as a parent I have somehow failed or done something wrong." As Facilitators we can know this to be a false assumption but if we do not address it head on, this very idea can doom our efforts.
This false assumption will cause people to consciously or subconsciously create "psychological fences" around any information that might help them to be better parents. You may hear: "We’ve tried everything." or "We’re too busy." or "Man, you ought to see our schedule." or "We have to feed the kids so we simply can’t attend." or "What will we do with the kids (toddlers teenagers or any age in between) while attending class?" or "We have no way to get there." or "We really aren’t having any serious problems with our kids, it’s the kids they play with who have the problems and we can’t really do anything about them."
So, what you do about this "fence building" in planning a class? First, remember, you do not have to be an authority on parenting to conduct a class! Please listen very carefully here: lots of experience all across the country has taught us that without a doubt the best facilitators for "Parenting With Dignity classes are people who are NOT viewed as experts or authorities! Way too often authorities and experts scare parents away because they tend to reinforce the previously mentioned false assumption by implying "I know this and you don't." A good Facilitator usually answers questions with questions like, "I don't know, what do you think?" or "Golly, that's a great question. Can anyone use one of the principals taught in this course to create a solution?" Good Facilitators share their own parenting frustrations and ask for help from the parents attending.
To neutralize those "psychological fences" and false assumptions before they are built, you must plan carefully. Here are some questions and suggestions that have proven effective:
This is a critical question and the answer is simple for any parent to understand! It is so much easier to teach something a simple as “Please” and “Thank You” at your own dinner table if your children visit other families where those words are regularly used. Your children learn the words that they are exposed to! Then if you roll the camera ahead just a few years, it is much simpler to expect that your children behave in an appropriate manner while on a date if they are dating another young person who has been taught similar dating behavior! In a like manner it is so much more reasonable to expect your children to make a good decision about drugs and alcohol if there are lots of other young people in their group of friends who are making the same decision to refrain!
This is a really simple concept to understand… parents must have some open discussions with the parents of the children that their own children are spending time with! This is where the Parenting with Dignity Curriculum comes into play. The classes become a structured forum for those very discussions! If groups of parents get together and discuss some of the techniques that they will use in teaching some agreed upon morals, values, ethics, and approved behaviors it just stands to reason all of their children stand a better chance of making good decisions for themselves simply because other children will be making similar decisions!
Peer pressure is only a negative force when it pushes in a negative direction! By meeting with other parents and holding many children to a similar standard, peer pressure becomes one of the most powerful and positive forces in the lives of all of the children!
Hold your left hand up in front of you. The thumb represents you. Now, look at the other four fingers… these represent four families that you already know who will join for an hour-long class and discussion, one night per week for nine weeks.
In selecting these four families we strongly recommend that you pick families whose kids interact with your children on a regular basis. Find four families from your child’s day care center, school, little league team, or other group where your child spends time with other children.
Remember, when you organize this class you are in no way setting yourself up to do any teaching… that is what the video classes are for. All you are doing is organizing the meeting so that all you can meet for some discussions that follow a loosely structured format. The video sessions do the teaching.
This is also pretty simple! Hold one meeting with the families represented by the fingers of your left hand. At this meeting decide where you will meet, when you will meet, who will make the arrangements for the DVD player and TV, who will make the arrangements for refreshments if you feel that would make the class more comfortable, and other arrangements like Child Care etc. Then as the last order of business at the organizational meeting, make an assignment to every one of these families from your “left hand”! Ask each of them to invite one family represented by the fingers on your right hand. Those fingers on your right hand represent the families who would probably not attend a parenting class o their own.
The way that you will get those “reluctant families” to attend is by a personal invitation from someone that they know and respect. Every one of the left hand families knows one family who is reluctant to attend open house at the school or is reluctant to volunteer to supervise a little league team!
Believe me, those reluctant families, represented by the “right hand”, will have more to offer to the class than the “left hand” families! They will bring problems and difficulties to the discussions that the volunteering families may never consider! If there is someone selling beer to kids out behind the local “Quick Stop” they will often know about it! Believe me, they will really open up the discussion to some important issues!
The absolute best format for the classes would be to have a different family responsible for holding the remote control for the DVD machine for each class! The best discussions result in classes where no one person is viewed as the expert or authority. If one person, or set of parents, is viewed by the others as the authority then all families will come looking for that authority person to solve their problems with their children! The goal of the course ought to be for each family to learn to solve their own problems and to use the rest of the families as a group to turn to for advice!
Print tickets and put a $10.00 or $20.00 price on them. (Free says your class has no value... it may seem silly but charging money establishes value.) Then if someone balks because of price, you can "scholarship" them… but they are still receiving tickets to an event with value. The money you raise can be used for beverages, food or to support further classes.
To get specific help with specific and individual problems or to become connected to other families in similar types of settings, just e-mail your question(s) to Mac and Barbara Bledsoe at: email@example.com.
When you come up with a great idea about something that has worked for you in creating a better class, please e-mail your idea to: firstname.lastname@example.org to share it with the world. That is how this page came into being.
From now on we will be discussing additional steps that can be taken to "tear down fences." None of the rest of these suggestions should be viewed as necessary; rather they should be viewed as suggestions that can ensure the success of your class. If you use any of these, plan ahead and include this information on your initial advertising or initial invitations.
Many parents say, "We are too busy and what should I do with the kids for dinner on the night of class?" Go to your local fast food restaurants and ask them if they would be willing to support your efforts in putting on your class by supplying one meal for one night of class. Avoid using the word "donation". Rather ask them "to partner with you" in making your community a better place for kids and families. (You be amazed at the response you receive! Most of these companies are among the most civic and charity minded of all American corporations. Most will be glad to help especially if you are asking for their product and not money.) Once you have a couple of burger dinners, a chicken dinner, a taco dinner, and a pizza dinner, go to your locally owned restaurants and offer them a chance to compete by putting on a special dinner of their choosing. Many of these restaurants will be willing to host the Banquet and Awards Ceremony at the conclusion of your course. Many will jump at the chance to show off the difference between their food and what their competitors serve. In approaching these companies, be sure to point out that you will be telling all of the attendees at your class to frequent the civic-minded stores supporting the classes with meals. Show the businesses that you can run the handouts with their logo on it for free advertising.
Many parents say, "What will we do with the kids while we are at class? We can't afford a babysitter or day-care." There are lots of things you can do here. First, go to the Home and Family Life teacher at your local high school and see if extra credit might be possible for students who are willing to provide toddler care. Or, go to the local Day Care Providers and ask them if they would be willing to bring a couple of their professionals over to provide day care in trade for the opportunity to showcase their services and distribute literature about their operation. (On this count you will be providing a real service to many parents who are struggling with the problem of selecting a day care provider by letting them try out a few for free as part of your class!) Some people actually move their classes from Day Care facility to Day Care facility so that parents get to visit several Day Care facilities during the course of the 9-week class.
Many parents say, "What do we do with our older kids?" Go to your local Boy Scout, Girl Scout, 4H, FFA, YMCA, YWCA and other youth activity leaders and offer them the privilege of coming to a night of class each and showcasing what they have to offer to the older kids of the parents in your class. Ask them to be prompt and to make their presentations fun and energetic. If you get with it here, you can have a really fun program each night of class so that the kids will be dragging their parents to class. Next, set up videoLessons, music, games, art supplies, video games, or study areas as your space allows for the kids to use while their parents are attending class.
"How do we get Dads involved?" The best way to get other men involved is to have one or two involved in the planning of the class! At least have a Dad sign all mailings and have a Dad listed as a co-facilitator. Use Drew and the football involved in the taping. That is why it is there--to entice Dads who might think it is OK to come to a class if it involves the NFL. Once you get them there, they will return.
What do we do when we are finished? "So, we've run a class for 10 families but we're just a drop in the bucket. How do we make this an ongoing program for the community so that eventually every family can become involved?" Here is precisely what you do: in the first 5-6 weeks of class, your job as the Facilitator is to select two families to replace yourself in running the next class. (They will become obvious to you almost immediately.) Now you "court" and train them to take over when you are finished... give them the Lessons and the promise that you will be available to help as they duplicate the process. One class always produces two more and those two produce four and those four produce eight and so on... AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALL!
"Are there any other helpful hints?" Many, but is one universal tip: Please go to our website and use it as a resource! There are so many links on our website to sites offering help to parents. Use the resources that we provide.
Mac Bledsoe speaking to 1,000+ people in Sydney, MT (Pop. 6,000)
More than 1000 people from Sidney Montana, a town of 6000, turned out to hear the Parenting with Dignity Message from Mac Bledsoe in October of 2001. Mac's powerful message to parents about the Parenting with Dignity Formula for positive change has earned him one of the best reputations with PTA groups nationwide. Many towns, cities, and communities all across America are joining in on the goal of building a better world for kids by using effective teaching tools in the home.
America is ready for a change and Parenting with Dignity provides a great starting point. This was not an event that took tons of money and a huge commitment of school district funds. This event was a smashing success due to hard work and dedicated volunteer effort on behalf of the kids in the community. To see how this event was organized.....
To see how a parenting event was planned and executed read the following plan as written by Tammy Leland and Kathi Roberts, volunteer leaders in Sidney Montana:
April 2001: After listening to you at the Life
Long Learning Conference in Missoula, we brainstormed ways to get parents to
attend. We came up with the idea that students could earn grade increases
through parents/adult attendance at your presentation. In our school, you can
loose from 2% to 5% in all classes if you mess up. Why not give students a way
to earn that back and to reward everyone for their participation? For each
parent attending, his/her child will earn a 2% grade increase in all classes, K
through 12. If anyone else in the community attends on behalf of a child, the
child receives a 1% grade increase per person registered for him/her.
Ultimately, students can earn a maximum of a 5% increase for all their classes.
We also proposed "closing down Sidney" for 1 1/2 hours that night to get every
adult in town to the meeting. We returned home and talked to our principal about
bringing you to Sidney.
April: We looked at the dates that would impact
the most people. We chose the day before Teacher's Convention because you could
talk to students during the day, parents at night, and educators who came here
for Teacher's Convention the next morning.
April: Kathi Roberts spoke to your assistant,
Kathleen about seeing if the dates worked.
April: Kathi Roberts filled out your request for
speaking dates and received confirmation.
August 2001: We spoke to our high school
principal and superintendent about incentives to get parents involved and
received the go ahead. One of the reasons the superintendent was happy about
this is because we weren't just bringing in a speaker, we were also following up
with parenting classes.
August: Our principal took the idea to the other
school principals and got their support also.
September 2001: We talked to two clergy
organizations about supporting this presentation. The churches were hesitant at
first because in our community Wednesday night is "church" night. Since we were
proposing the adults attend that evening - not students - the churches were okay
with the idea. Various churches ran information in their weekly and monthly
bulletins. They also encouraged their adult Wednesday night groups to attend the
presentation rather than holding adult classes.
September: We spoke with the Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber sent faxes out to all chamber businesses encouraging their support.
They also interviewed us for the local noon television show to help promote it.
This aired Wednesday, October 10th, a week before you presented.
September: We made up fliers to place in
businesses. Kathy downloaded the graphics from your website and added our
information (see attached).
September: Tammy spoke to the Kiwanis Club and
received their encouragement and support to help hand out information and help
with registration the night of the presentation.
September: We compiled a list of all businesses
in the community and sent out letters to each explaining our proposal.
October 2001: We met with local newspaper
reporters and gave them information to run in their papers.
October: We went to every business in town - NOT
just Main Street - and hung up fliers, encouraged adults to attend, and asked
the 42 night businesses to consider closing for 1 1/2 hours. For those corporate
businesses that said they absolutely could not close, we suggested they look at
their employee scheduling and try to schedule any adult with kids in school to
have the night off. We also went to any nighttime community organization and
asked them to reschedule/close for that time (Hockey, Gymnastics & the Public
Library all closed for us)! Going to all businesses took us 2 full days and 3
more half days.
October: We got on the morning announcements at
school and explained the idea to the students so they could encourage their
parents, neighbors, employers, friends, and relatives to attend.
October: We made registration forms (postcard size) to speed registration. An example is attached. We included registration for the parenting classes right on the forms.
October: We went to the local grocery stores and
got 52 paper bags. We double bagged them and wrote a capital letter of the
alphabet on each.
October: We contacted the secretaries at all
school and asked for alphabetical by grade lists of all students.
October 16: You flew in and we gave you a
Driver's Ed. car to use. We put you up in a motel, had dinner and visited with
October 17: That afternoon you presented to the
middle school and high school kids (750) and they LISTENED! They are still
saying great things about you. That night, we set the bags out along the gym
hallway and put 4 clipboards out for Parenting Class registration. We had
registrations forms, hundreds of sharpened pencils, and copies of handouts for
everyone. You presented and the parents (1,000) loved your message. We set up
and video Lessond your presentation for interested parents who were unable to
attend. Parents dropped their registrations into the paper bag beginning with
the first letter of their last name. They also signed up for parenting classes
October 18: You presented to the approximately
300 educators that morning; we gave each educator handouts too. They were
impressed! Several asked how they could get you to present to their school.
We've passed your website on!!!
October 18-19: We had 4-5 people going through
all the registrations to credit the students for adult participation.
October 21: Tammy and a student counted up all
the registration forms and pulled any that were marked for parenting classes.
801 registration forms were turned in, many with two parents on one sheet. All
parenting class registration was checked and counted (102 families)!!! We are
still getting phone calls for parenting class registration and to view the
videoLesson we made.
October 22-25: Tammy compiled and submitted to
each teacher a roster with their students and their participation points. At the
elementary level, every student had a minimum of 3 points and at the middle
school and high school every student had at least 1 point. Most had 4-5 points.
Suggestions: At the elementary level, the percentage points weren't necessarily applicable. Several teachers had pizza parties, special treats, etc. Some gave out free homework passes for each point. Make sure the administration talks to their teachers before universally announcing something.
If we can be of help, please e-mail email@example.com
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Parenting With Dignity™
Sponsored by The Drew Bledsoe Foundation