Two-Generation Approach for Workshops

By Julianne Kelly, CFCC Student Fellow 2013-2014

How can we expect a child to succeed when the parent or caregiver is unequipped to assist the child? Children not only need assistance with homework and school projects, but also with social and emotional development.

Parents or caregivers who struggle with their own emotional, financial and/or mental problems often encounter challenges in addressing the needs of their children. Children need a stable home and caregivers who are equipped with the skills necessary to be successful parents. In order for children to reach their potential, it is useful to adopt a two-generation approach that focuses on a parent’s needs as well as those of the child. By addressing  issues that affect parents, such as language barriers, financial problems, and educational need, we also help the child.

After all, how can we expect parents to help their children with homework, for instance, if they themselves cannot read? Assisting a child without assessing the parents’ or caregivers’ needs is like putting a cast on a broken leg without resetting the bone. Eventually, the leg may heal, but it will never heal correctly. The child’s needs will be met best by involving his/her caregiver, as well.

So what do we do? How can we best help parents or caregivers? A two-generation focus looks at each situation separately to determine the needs of the child and caregiver. The Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) understands the importance of parents and caregivers in the child’s life. CFCC Student Fellows are developing a parents’ workshop this fall to offer information to parents about student disabilities and where parents/caregivers can go for help within both the legal and education communities.

What other workshop topics do you think would be helpful? Is it helpful to consider parents’ needs when addressing a child’s problems in  school?

0 thoughts on “Two-Generation Approach for Workshops

  1. Great post, Juli. This is something I've been interested in learning more about as well because I, like you, think that the most effective problem solving approaches are those that tackle the issues of the family, not just one member of the family. I think that this two-generation focus is a fantastic place to start. I did some research last semester for an article I wrote on sexual autonomy for women with developmental disabilities. There has been a significant rise of mothers with developmental disabilities and those developmental delays have changed the way that family members, social services, and courts interact with parents. On the one hand there is an entire movement that aims to restrict and even terminate parental rights because supporters of that school of thought believe that if you are a parent with a disability, you should not be responsible for rearing your child. On the other hand, there is a growing population of supportive loved ones and social service advocates that feel that parenting deficits can be remedied with good support and education and that so long as a child is not in danger, a parent should be afforded the opportunity to exercise his or her fundamental right to parent. I think this is relatable in our CFCC work. I think workshops such as the upcoming CFCC workshop are a fantastic way to start to address multi-generational issues such as this and provide the much needed support and education to both parent and child.

  2. Parents may not always know about community resources that can help meet their basic needs or how to access essential services. Many factors beyond the parent-child relationship affect a family’s ability to care for their children. I believe it is very important to consider parents’ needs when addressing a child’s problems in school. I strongly believe that helping the parents as well as the students will make the family feel more comfortable and they will experience a greater benefit. There was a student in my TCP session who clearly had underlying issues, which was why she was struggling in school. When we spoke to the student and her guardian we were able to gain a better understanding on the approach we needed to take. The guardian was shocked at first, not understanding why we were focused on helping her as well. The family ultimately received the help and services they needed. It was the fact that we helped not only the student but the guardian as well that proved to have a more positive and effective impact on the situation.

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