By Mike Wade | NRVCS

The challenges of raising a child in today’s world are ever-changing and even the “best” of parents can sometimes struggle.

It’s a message officials with NRVCS are emphasizing as they prepare to offer the new “Building Strong Families” program in Pulaski County. The eight-week program – open to families with children between the ages 5 and 12 – will meet on Monday evenings, beginning Monday, September 16 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Memorial Baptist Church in Pulaski (995 Peppers Ferry Road). The program is completely free and includes a free meal each week, along with free childcare for children under the age of 5.

Cathy “Cat” Songer, a Prevention Educator with NRVCS, notes that the program is open to any family with children between ages 5 and 12, and is not specifically geared toward families that are enrolled in services with the agency. She adds that participating in this type of class doesn’t mean parents should feel they are doing a “bad job” of raising their kids.

“All parents should take parenting classes!” Songer declares. “We aren’t born knowing how to parent and we usually only know what we’ve learned from our own parents.”

Songer explains that effective parenting programs should teach family members the importance of having compassion for each other, help develop better communication skills, and provide tools for problem solving that everyone in the family can use.

“A large number of the parents who take these classes are already working hard and striving to be on top of things,” continues Songer. “I think they just recognize that children and our society are always changing and you have to adapt to those changes.”

Building Strong Families is an interactive program that attempts to meet the unique needs of participants. Children also play a big role in the learning process through the program. “Getting children involved helps put everyone on the same page, so that kids won’t be confused when their parent begins to use new strategies to solve problems,” Songer adds.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ parenting program,” says Songer. “All families are different and even children within the same family often respond differently to parenting.”

In addition to parenting and communication skills, the program also places strong emphasis on the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or “ACEs.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “ACEs is the term used to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18.” ACEs have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, and even early death.

Families interested in participating in the program can sign up or learn more by contacting Leslie Beasley at 540-961-8356 or via email at lbeasley@nrvcs.org.