Family intervention programs, referred to as Nurturing Parenting Programs and funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), are designed to improve the skills of parents and to provide resources to families and communities.
Parent educators widely recognize that parenting patterns are learned in childhood and are replicated later in life when children become parents. Positive experiences in childhood build strong character and a sense of self-worth and facilitate a nurturing parenting style. Negative experiences involve children in parental abuse, neglect, exploitation, and victimization. The primary goal of helping professionals should be to replace abusive behavior patterns with more acceptable nurturing patterns. Common attributes of abusing parents that need to be changed include inappropriate expectations of the child, lack of empathy toward the child's needs, and a strong belief in the value of physical punishment. The foundation of the OJJDP's Nurturing Parenting Programs is that parenting is learned. The programs are based on six assumptions: (1) The family is a system; (2) Empathy is the single most desirable quality in nurturing parenting; (3) Parenting exists on a continuum; (4) Learning is both cognitive and affective; (5) Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to become nurturing parents; and (6) No one truly prefers abusive interactions. Program objectives and content are listed, program adaptations for special populations are discussed, and program formats are described. Findings of an evaluation of the initial Nurturing Parenting Program are presented that indicate the program was an effective family-centered approach to helping parents and children replace abusive with nurturing interactions. 14 references, 3 tables, 4 figures, and 3 photographs
Date Published: November 1, 2000