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"LEADER" On-line: Vol. 6, No. 1

At The Home Depot, Employees and Employer Benefit from Parenting Education

The Home Depot helps build strong families with Active Parenting lunch programs.

by Diana King

Toddler tantrums…fussy eaters…messy bedrooms…chore wars…homework hassles…peer pressure…dating…curfews…These are just a few of the issues employees can face after the workday has ended and they begin their other full-time job—parenting.

As dawn breaks and the alarm clock rings early the next morning, these family issues often follow employees to work, causing stress and possibly affecting on-the-job performance.

Today, however, associates working at The Home Depot Store Support Center in Atlanta can learn positive techniques for handling these situations by attending an Active Parenting Today (ages 2-12) or an Active Parenting of Teens Lunch-and-Learn Program. The new program has been formatted to fit a 45-minute to one-hour employee lunchtime break and features six self-contained video and discussion sessions focusing on parenting style, redirecting misbehavior, natural and logical consequences, building courage and self-esteem, effective communication skills and peaceful conflict resolution.

"Taking care of our people is a core value at The Home Depot, and one we take very seriously,” says Layne Thome, associate services manager. “We offer different Life-Balance programs such as parenting and elder care classes to help associates balance their home life. We know if people are more satisfied in their home life they are generally happier and more effective at work."


In this scene from Active Parenting Today, Mom learns a powerful method for redirecting her young artist to a more appropriate canvas.

As classes progressed, The Home Depot associates with teenagers began asking if there was a class that could help them deal with the special challenges of teen behavior. “Our associates were telling us that the teenage years are hard,” said Sherilynn Bare, associate services coordinator and leader of the first Active Parenting of Teens class. “They wanted to develop stronger relationships with their teen sons and daughters and needed better ways to communicate and encourage responsible behavior. They asked, ‘How can I talk about difficult things like drugs, sex and violence?’ ‘How do I get my teen to listen to me without lecturing?’ and ‘How do I figure out the correct discipline for misbehavior?’”

"I can’t believe how helpful the class has been to me,” said Homer Fund associate Patience Hendrix. “It came just in the nick of time. I didn’t know where to turn,” explaining that her relationship with her teen daughter is improving after a family crisis. “I have learned a lot about teenagers and ways to calm myself down. I am listening to her more. It was so helpful to listen to the other parents and share my frustrations. Just knowing that there was someplace to go and people were there to support me meant a lot.”

Lola Layne, an information systems associate, explains “a co-worker on my team had taken the class for younger kids and when I heard about the teen class I jumped on it. These classes have helped me re-open the lines of communication with my 14-year-old son. It helped me stop and think, to put on the brakes and think before I said something. It also helped to talk with other parents about a situation and get their perspective. Now we are working better together and there’s a lot more fun in our house.”

Home Depot associates Glenn Suppe and Patience Hendrix learn positive "Active Parenting" techniques at a Lunch & Learn.

  Having fun together is an important building block in the development of healthy families. In both classes parents are urged to initiate regular family enrichment activities—as short as ten minutes or as long as an all-day outing. Taking time for fun is important because it’s easier to like someone you have fun with. Often, though, the fun part of being a family gets lost in the daily rush of work schedules and household chores. For Home Depot associates David and Denise Wooten, in information services, the family enrichment activities led to fun and learning. “Our sons, 8 and 10, wanted to tie-dye T-shirts with a friend,” said David Wooten. “It was fun and we all learned how to do something new. The boys never want to take their shirts off.”

Several associates indicated they would like to take a “refresher” class again in a year or two when their children are a little older and entering a new behavioral stage. In the meantime, they are referring to the Parent’s Guide for tips on handling new situations. The Home Depot also has a second set of the videos available for associates to check out if they miss a class, want to review specific skills, or wish to share the program with a spouse.

Along with stronger parenting skills, many associates find the program helps them develop communication skills that improve other important relationships in their life. “The classes were eye-opening,” adds Peck, “and not just for parenting. I have learned skills I can tailor to relationships with friends, family and co-workers.”

“The class was incredible. It shows that The Home Depot does care about its people and not just when they are at work,” said Layne Thome. Her feelings are echoed by other associates who consider the classes a valuable associate benefit, stressing the convenient time and workplace location. And, as associates continue to ask Thome and Bare, “When is the next parenting class being offered?” it’s clear that The Home Depot is not only providing lumber and hardware to construct houses but supporting the emotional construction of strong associate families.

Click here for information about Active Parenting's work-life solutions.

Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright 2001 by Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.