November 28, 2006

Starting a Parenting with Dignity Class

(Another in Series of Letters from Concerned Parents (If you would like to submit a question for Mac to answer, please feel free to post your question at the bottom of the page!)

Why Would We Want to Start a PWD Class?

Dear Mac,

My wife and I recently purchased a set of the Parenting with Dignity, DVD curriculum and we love it. (We really loved the fact that we received a book for free with the order! the book really helps to refer to after watching he video.) The techniques are working with amazing success. We cannot believe the change in the climate in our family, and both of us feel so much calmer since we are actually approaching our three kids with a real plan. We are about halfway through the Assignment sheets and have just finished with Segment 5.

Our question for you is regarding the starting of a class. We love the curriculum but on your website you are continually trying to get parents to get together and watch the sessions as a group or class with other parents and we are not sure that we see that added value in going through the curriculum with other parents. Why should we put forth the effort to meet with others since the curriculum is working so well for us?

Father and Mother from West Virginia

A Simple Answer to A Common Question

Dear Father and Mother,

Your question is very perceptive and it is one that I receive almost weekly, so I will answer your question (and the questions of others) regarding the value of holding Parenting with Dignity classes!

It is really quite simple when you think about it; from the day your kids enter school at the common age of five they will spend more waking hours with the kids of other families than they spend with you! Those kids from other families are going to exert a very real and powerful force in the lives of your kids (this is commonly called "peer pressure"). You don’t say how old your kids are but if you have three it is probably pretty safe to assume that at least one of your kids is already of school age and maybe all of them are already in school.

Just like it says in our curriculum, “The ideas in the heads of you kids will rule their world! And it does not matter where those ideas come from”. In the American culture many of the ideas in kids heads come from the kids that they spend time with at school! If you are NOT willing to engage in discussions with the families of those kids and insist on doing “your own thing in your own home” with little or no interaction with the families of the kids that your kids go to school with and play with, then you are committing a fatal error. Those other kids and families will exert lots of pressure on you kids with some pretty dysfunctional ideas; and if you are unwilling to interact you must accept what you get! But peer pressure need not be a negative force!

This Will Sound Familiar!

It works like this: It is so much easier for you to teach something as simple as saying “please” and “thank-you” at your dinner table if, when your kids visit another family home and your kid says, “Hey gimme a biscuit,” and then someone at that table asks them to use “Please!” All of a sudden you are not so weird for demanding the same in your home.

Roll the camera ahead a few years and your daughter or son is on a date to the Prom. It is so much easier for your kid to practice appropriate dating behavior if the kid he or she is dating is practicing the same behavior!
It is so much more reasonable to expect your kid to say “no” to drugs if he or she has friends who are cool, and who are also saying “no” surrounding them! It is much easier to place productive and healthy ideas in your kids’ heads if the kids that they go to school with and hang out with have similar ideas in their heads!

“How do we get there?” you ask. Well it is really pretty simple; you have to get together with the parents of the kids that your kids play with, and go to school with. You need to sit down with the other parents and look each other in the eye and agree on some similar techniques and ideas.

At this point so many parents say, “But we will never agree with other parents on everything!” Granted, but, you know, I have now been in communities in every one of the fifty states, and let me tell you it is not nearly as hard as it may appear at first glance!

Not So Difficult to Find Agreement

If you put twenty adults in a room and ask them to form a list of the twenty biggest problems that they anticipate that their kids will face before they are twenty-one, almost every group will come up with the same list!

The key is to anticipate what your kids will face and to give them the guidance BEFORE they are in the situation. If a whole group of parents have agreed that they want their kids to know what to do in the event that drugs are offered, then they must develop those positive expectations in the heads of their kids! This works so much better if those same actions are in the heads of many of your kids friends and classmates!

A Stimulant for Discussion

Our classes are a great medium for stimulating those discussions in a very non-threatening way! If you will hold the classes with twelve other families then you will have twelve allies in placing productive and positive ideas in your kids heads!

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to set up a class with Parenting with Dignity solely for the purpose of engaging with other parents in building strategies for collectively creating the community to raise your kids. Believe me it works! (And the review of the curriculum will not hurt you either!)

In closing let me offer just one more side benefit to holding classes… you will learn more from the other people in the class than you learn from the curriculum! It is true. You will learn more from the ideas and experiences that the other parents bring to class than you will learn from the curriculum itself. The other families will bring in examples and situations typical to your community and your local culture!

Good luck and if you need help setting up your class just go to and print that page. It is a compilation of things we have learned about setting up successful classes.

Go for it and let me know if I can be of help in setting up your class.


Mac Bledsoe

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