Treating the Family

The Parenting Center has programs to help families deal with stresses before they escalate into major problems.

It would seem that parenting skills should be instinctive. But any parent who is honest will tell you that they are not. They are learned skills, and they can be improved through education and training.

In 1974, The Junior League of Fort Worth formed the Tarrant County Child Abuse Task Force in response to a recognized and growing problem of child abuse and neglect in the community. One result was an agency to teach parenting skills as a preventive measure. The resulting agency, opened in 1975, became what is today The Parenting Center.

Stressed marriages, unemployment issues and children with behavioral problems all can contribute to the possibility of more serious issues. The concept is to intervene with assistance before that can happen.

An example is a woman we’ll call Shannon. She came to The Parenting Center after a chance meeting with a case manager in late 2013. Her name has been changed to protect the family’s identity.

Parenting Center officials say that Shannon was emotionally disconnected and seemed hopeless and alone when she first came to see case manager Jeannie Luna.

“We could help her with her son, her marriage and her career,” says Luna.

Shannon attended a free, eight-hour marriage class with her husband. That class teaches healthy and safe ways to communicate and resolve conflict. The two also attended parenting classes, including one to help parents with special needs children. And the family began counseling.

Three months later, the teenage son’s mental health issues had been properly diagnosed, and he had not been in trouble at school. Shannon reported that things were better at home than they had been in years. The Parenting Center also was instrumental in facilitating her enrollment in a free work training program, where she is guaranteed a position upon graduation.

“The purpose of The Parenting Center is to build strong communities by building stronger families. Building a strong family involves much more than good parenting. It includes all the relationships within the family unit,” says Barbara Lamsens, executive director. “At The Parenting Center, we are able to provide resources to the whole family unit.” | by Paul K. Harral |