Tenrikyo Federation for Foster Parents held its first “common sense parenting” trainers training course on May 24 and 25 at the Home of the Parent. It was attended by 82 people involved in social welfare work.
The course, aimed at developing knowledge and skills in dealing with various parenting issues, is designed to train potential parent trainers to provide support and advice for parents and foster parents in their communities. Also, foster parents who take this course will be able to use the expertise they gain to enhance the way they take care of their foster children. It is hoped that, through helping improve followers’ parenting skills and abilities, this course will contribute to further increasing the credibility of Tenrikyo’s foster parenting efforts in society.
Taught by Mr. Kenichi Hori―a Yoboku who is qualified as an instructor in child abuse prevention programs in the United States and Canada―the course included presentations and group work such as role-play exercises.
“Common sense parenting” is a practical, skill-based parenting program that was developed by a children’s home in Nebraska based on its 90 years’ experience in working to improve the relationships between its staff members and children and helping to prepare children for independent adult life.
On day one of the training course, Mr. Hori gave a presentation to explain the need for a parenting program. Noting that children’s welfare centers across Japan receive a total of some 40,000 inquiries about child abuse each year, he said that children are increasingly brought up by inexperienced parents for whom there is not much opportunity to learn parenting skills or disciplining techniques, whereas until several decades ago, raising children was mainly the role of their grandparents, who had far more life experience than their parents, who were part of the labor force. Moreover, parenting skills have not been pooled over generations in an effective way.
Mr. Hori went on to describe the program he recommends, which he says is easy to learn and has the same effect no matter who implements it. One of the main areas of focus, he said, is effective communication that can be established by making one’s comments clear and specific so as to transmit practical information, describing precisely what needs to be done, rather than telling children to, for example, behave. Another area is concerned with the effective use of positive and negative consequences to help children clearly understand the relationship between what they do and what happens as a result of their actions. An extremely important area, Mr. Hori said, is preventive teaching, which refers to teaching children a concrete skill they will need in advance and giving them the opportunity to practice it beforehand, thereby increasing their chance of getting it right.
On day two, participants engaged in role-play exercises in groups of six, taking turns in being the parenting trainer of their own group.
This was followed by a question and answer session. Asked how to respond to someone who says, “I would like to base my parenting on the teachings of the path rather than on this parenting program,” Mr. Hori replied: “I hope that you will use the path’s teachings as the basis and make conscious use of the skills and expertise you have gained from this course. It would be ideal if parenting could be supported by both faith and the skills taught in the parenting program.”