by Diana King
Parent education, drug and substance abuse prevention, school
safety and crisis intervention
on any given day California
educator Kenneth Lake wears many hats. As the Projects Manager
for Prevention Services for the Placer County (CA) Office of
Education, a Field Colleague for the California Department of
Education on School Safety and Crisis Intervention, and a parent
educator for Kaiser Permanente, Ken is committed to helping children
He is also noted for his energetic and dramatic teaching style.
In fact, in a recent evaluation a parent awarded him an A
and concluded he must have been in the theater at some
Ken began using the revised Active Parenting Today program
in 1992 to bring state-of-the-art parent education to families
in his community and has been going strong ever since. LEADER
magazine recently caught up with this teaching dynamo to discuss
the changes hes seen in 20 years of teaching parenting
education classes and his experience with the new Active
Parenting Now program.
Q. After teaching parenting education classes for 20 years,
what do see as the core issues and benefits for parents?
A. First, parents are looking for someone to listen to them.
During the six-week course they get to talk to other parents
and see that theirs is not the only family with problems. Second,
when we show the video segment about mutual respect you can literally
see jaws drop as parents observe the effect their own behavior
has on their children. Third, many parents are using demands
and ultimatums as discipline. When we clarify the difference
and talk about the power of choice and how to come up with a
list of logical consequences, they start to see changes in their
childs behavior. Fourth, improving active listening and
communication skills impacts both the parent-child and couple
relationship. I like that Active Parenting Now gives greater
emphasis to the importance of words, tone of voice and body language
so parents see earlier and more clearly how these factors influence
their childs behavior.
Q. What changes are you seeing in your parenting classes?
A. Im seeing many more parents in blended families, and
also grandparents who have been thrust back into the parenting
role. The average age of the parents is also going up due to
parents having children later in life. We are also seeing more
attorneys recommending that divorcing parents attend parenting
classes, and more court-ordered cases.
Q. What issues are parents concerned about today?
A. More parents are expressing concern about their children not
working up to their potential in school and the influence of
the media. They say their kids are growing up too quickly and
are exposed to too much sex and violence. This touches on one
of the concepts emphasized in Active Parenting Nowthat
it is important for parents to act as screens or filters to prevent
dangerous events from influencing their children. This is particularly
important in the areas of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, reckless
sexuality and violence.
Q. What are some of the other differences you see between
Active Parenting Today and the new Active Parenting
A. Now the skill development sectionsgiving choices, mutual
respect, active listening and setting logical consequenceshave
been moved to the beginning of the program. This gives parents
more time to practice these techniques at home and then come
back to class to discuss their success and learn from the other
parents. Family meetings have also been moved up to the first
session, so parents have time to experiment and see what works
with their family. Leading a family meeting takes skill, and
when the parents come back to class they share their experiences.
The additional emphasis on family meetings as a time for compliments
and planning fun activities, as well as discussing schedules,
chores and problems, helps children and teens to buy into the
Alfred Adler and parenting education
Like all Active Parenting programs, the new Active
Parenting Now program is based on the psychology of Alfred
Adler (1870-1937). Adler was a colleague of Sigmund Freud, and
his groundbreaking theories of psychology form the basis of modern
parent education. In fact Adlerians have been innovators in developing
new and better products for leading parenting groups since Rudolf
Dreikurs and Vickie Soltz wrote their groundbreaking guide, 1964s
Children: The Challenge. A decade later, in 1976, Don Dinkmeyer
and Gary McKay broke ground again with the publication of Systematic
Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), a well-designed
audiocassette-based program that made it easy to offer Adlerian
parenting groups everywhere. In 1983, Michael Popkin moved the
field forward again with the production of Active Parenting,
the first video-based parent education program. (For more information
about Adler and his theories, try the North American Society
of Adlerian Psychology: www.AlfredAdler.org.)
Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright 2003 by Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.