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Learning Activities

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Parenting Style and Parent-Child Connectedness

This learning activity is a summary of a workshop on parent-child connectedness and includes the following sections:

Time Required

One 90-minute session, or if necessary, two 45-minute sessions.

Setting and Audience

This activity is designed to be led by an experienced facilitator in a variety of settings such as:

  • A lunch-time workshop series in a work setting
  • Workshops at community-based organizations
  • Workshops sponsored by schools
  • Workshops sponsored by communities of faith
  • Support groups (formal and informal)
  • Weekend retreats

The audience for the activity is parents of adolescents ages 11-19.

Workshop Description

The workshop consists of the following activities:

  • Through guided imagery, parents think back on their early teen years and their relationships with their parents during that time.
  • Parents pair off and discuss any memories they choose to share.
  • In the large group, parents discuss the overall closeness of their childhood relationship with their own parents and the ways that relationship has affected their parenting style.
  • Parents get a handout with a definition of parent-child connectedness (PCC).
  • Parents rate the levels of PCC, on a scale from 1-10, in their childhood relationships with their own parents and in their current relationships with their teens.
  • Parents set a goal for increasing the level of PCC with their teens.

Workshop Objectives

By the end of this session, parents will be able to:

  • Define Parent Child Connectedness (PCC);
  • Describe how their parenting style has been influenced by their experiences as a child and their parents' modeling;
  • Think about and describe the ways they want their relationships with their children to be different from their childhood relationships with their own parents;
  • Rate the level of PCC with their teen on a scale from 1-10; and
  • State an intention to maintain or increase the level of PCC with their teen.

Materials Checklist

Set-up and Preparation

  1. If you do not have 90 minutes for a single session, you can conduct this activity as two 45-minute sessions. Plan to end the first session after step 3, "Large Group Discussion of Guided Imagery." You will need to adjust the timing allotted to each of the activities.
  2. Begin the second session (if you have split this activity into two sessions) with another warm-up activity of your choice. (Since it may still be early in your workshop series, another warm-up activity will help parents get to know each other and become more comfortable in the group.) Then ask the parents who were present last time to review what happened and summarize the group's discussion. Fill in anything important they miss from your notes or memory. Then go straight into step 4, "Introducing PCC," where you introduce PCC and review the handout.
  3. Make sure you understand parent-child connectedness well. While a brief treatment of the topic is offered in the "What is Parent-Child Connectedness (PCC)?" handout that accompanies this activity, it is important that facilitators of this activity understand PCC at a deeper level than is covered by the handout. Free copies of two important documents can be downloaded from this website. These documents are ETR's review of the literature on parent-child connectedness and the report on our focus group study on PCC which was conducted with African-American and Latino parents and teens. (Note: both of these documents are pdf files.)
  4. Choose a brief warm-up activity (an activity that the entire group can do in five minutes) to conduct at the beginning of this session. This will help create a comfortable learning environment for the sensitive activities participants will be doing during the workshop.
  5. Be sure to establish ground rules to create a safe environment.
  6. Review the facilitator resource, "Reflecting on Your Childhood" carefully. Practice reading it aloud in a comfortable tone of voice, pausing long enough for people to form at least one image before moving on. (This usually requires about five seconds of silence.)
  7. Reflect back on your own teen years and what you experienced with your parents. If you're a parent, think about how it impacted your parenting style or your beliefs about parenting. Be prepared to share your story as part of leading Step 3, "Large Group Discussion of Guided Imagery."
  8. Make a large chart of the 1-10 scale from the handout, "Rate the Level of Parent Child Connectedness."

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Procedure

  1. Introductions (15 minutes)
    1. Tell parents that during this activity they will:
    • learn about something called parent-child connectedness (PCC);
    • reflect back on their childhoods to assess the level of PCC they had with their parents;
    • assess the level of PCC they have with their own teens;
    • decide if they're happy with this level and what they want to do about it, if anything.
    1. Ask parents to introduce themselves. Conduct the brief warm-up activity you have chosen.
    2. Outline the following ground rules to help create a safe and comfortable environment for today's discussion:
    • Listen with an open mind.
    • Respect different points of view.
    • Take care of yourself — trust your gut.
    • Share the time with each other — don't dominate the discussion.
    • Ask any questions — there is no such thing as a stupid question.
    • Recognize that it's normal to feel a range of feelings — joy, sadness, anger, guilt, etc. — when discussing your childhood and your own children.
    • Recognize that all parents want the best for their children and are doing the best they can with what they currently know and understand. All parents have both strengths and challenges.
  2. Guided Imagery and Dyad Activity (25 minutes)
    1. Give the following information:
    • I will read some questions that are intended to bring back memories about your own teen years. This is called "guided imagery."
    • Some people have happy memories and others have sad or painful memories about their early years in their families. If you have painful memories that you do not want to think about, feel free to let your mind move to another topic. Take care of yourself.
    • After the guided imagery, you will pair off with someone and discuss any memories that you feel comfortable sharing. You will be in control of what/how much you share about your memories.
    • Please close your eyes and relax. Listen and follow along with my questions, but remember this is your journey. I will be moving somewhat quickly, so if a memory comes up and you want stay with it, that's fine. Just go with the process in a way that feels comfortable to you.
    1. Read the guided imagery questions from the facilitator resource slowly and with feeling, pausing as indicated. After the reading, ask participants to pair off to discuss any memories that they are comfortable sharing. Let them know that they have 15 minutes and that they don’t need to take any notes.
  3. Large Group Discussion of Guided Imagery (15 minutes)
    1. After 15 minutes, reconvene the large group and ask these questions:
    • In a sentence or two, how would you describe your parents' style of childrearing?
    • How close were you with your mother? How close were you with your father?
    • How close did your parents think they were with you?
    • How much conflict or fighting was there?
    • How has the way you were raised affected the way you are raising your children today?
    • What have you tried to do differently from the way your parents raised you?
    • How do you want your children's lives to be different than your own?
  4. Introducing PCC (10 minutes)
    1. Ask if anyone has ever heard of parent-child connectedness. (It will probably be a new term for most people.) Distribute the "What is Parent-Child Connectedness (PCC)?" handout and ask a volunteer to read it aloud.
    2. Then ask:
    • Can someone explain PCC using your own words?
    • What do you think about PCC?
    • What's your reaction to the benefits that PCC can give to children/teens?
  5. Assessing PCC and Setting Goals (20 minutes)
    1. Tell parents that you want them to think about PCC in relation to their past and present. Distribute the handout, "Rate the Level of Parent-Child Connectedness." Display the PCC scale that you made earlier and review it briefly.
    2. Give parents a moment to reflect and write down their responses on the handout.
    3. Ask parents to take turns responding verbally in the large group:
    • On this scale, how would you rate the level of connectedness between you and your parent(s) during your early teen years? Please explain your rating.
    • How would you rate the level of PCC in your relationship with your teen? Please explain your rating.
    • How do you think your teen would rate the relationship?
    • How happy are you with these ratings? What is one thing you will commit to do to raise the level of PCC by just one point? (Note: Encourage parents to be specific.)
  6. Conclusion (3 minutes)
    1. Tell parents that it is time to bring the session to a close. To wrap things up, choose one of the questions below to ask and take a few responses from parents.
    • What is the most important thing you got from this session?
    • What will you tell other parents or friends about parent-child connectedness?
    • What's one thing you want to work on in your relationship with your teenager? (Note: have the parents share what they wrote in the Assessing PCC exercise. They will keep the "Rate the Level of Parent-Child Connectedness" handout to refer to over time.)
    • How helpful was it to talk with other parents about these issues?
    • What other issues would you like to deal with in a workshop like this?

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