You’re working from home – or maybe not working at all – because of the pandemic. Your kids are at home 24/7 with you. Soccer practice is canceled. School is done. Mass gathering options are limited. It’s a time of extraordinary stress for families.
The Dorchester County Alcohol and Drug Commission’s (DCADC) Parent Talk program is a resource that can help every family in the county. Parent Talk is an online outgrowth of the Strengthening Families program, a 14-week free program open to parents and children ages 6-11 together.
After going through the Strengthening Families program, parents can join Parent Talk and continue to share with other families what they have learned and what they are facing with their children. So far, there are 38 families who have graduated from the four different cycles of the Strengthening Family program.
The goal of both programs is to teach adults and children to communicate and solve problems together, to understand and deal with feelings, and to strengthen the bonds that dramatically reduce the likelihood of children lapsing into self-destructive behaviors – like drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, truism, and violence.
Danielle Gardner, one of the facilitators of Parent Talk, says the ongoing conversations are just so encouraging and uplifting. She credits the program with helping her get through a hard time with her 11-year-old daughter while she was battling cancer.
“We help each other and give each other skills. We become families of other families.”
Since the COVID-19 shutdown, Parent Talk has gone virtual and now meets twice a month online. It’s not quite the same as seeing each other in person, but it allows even members who have moved away to stay in touch, Danielle said.
Nearly all the families that have taken the course have reported improved conditions at home. Almost all adults report that their children are happier and that they are spending more quality time with their children. More than three-quarters say they are better at problem-solving, and conflict and stress are reduced.
There are no income qualifications, and joining the course is not an admission of bad parenting. It offers excellent tools to improve the parent-child relationship and boost the likelihood that children will avoid self-destructive behaviors and succeed in life.
Elizaonai Hora is a single mother with an 11-year-old child who says going through the programs has been amazing. She said she learned to communicate better and gave the example of a parent wanting to play with a child.
Hora said in the past, she would have just gone to her child’s room and asked the child if she wanted to play without really considering if her child wanted to do that right then.
“You have to be considerate of them. I learned that I should wait until she asks me to play with her. That way, I know that she is asking for my attention and wants to be with me. I’m meeting her needs that way.”
Parent Talk allows her to stay in touch with other parents from the Strengthening Families course and continue the emotional support.
“I have a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, so I know how hard parenting is,” says Chris Rollison, Prevention Director for the Dorchester County Alcohol and Drug Commission. “Particularly now that the kids are home all the time with my wife and me, we’ve really had to use all our skills to keep them engaged and maintain a happy household. I understand why adults with children would want someone to provide them with strategies for good communication and decision-making.”
Parent Talk is funded by Children’s Trust of SC and is open to any Dorchester County family with children 6-11.
For more information on what DADC is doing to help families in Dorchester county contact Chris Rollison, 843-871-4790, CRollison@dadc.org. To apply for the program, contact Lisa Hart, 843-364-1463 or Carolina.firstname.lastname@example.org.
This ad was approved by the Dorchester Alcohol and Drug Commission under award #1H79TI081720-01 from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.