Even though little agreement exists among experts about specific techniques or interactions that insure the development of a competent adult, parent education programs have become an important method of supporting traditional child-rearing practices and conveying new knowledge. Books and programs have replaced traditional sources of parenting education. The benefit derived from parenting programs is difficult to determine, since little reliable data exist to show that participation in these programs results in positive changes in parents and their children.
This study examined the effectiveness of the most recent contribution to Adlerian parent education, the Active Parenting program. An attempt was made to measure changes in parents knowledge, attitudes, and behavior and their children’s self-concept following participation in the program. The knowledge variable assessed parents’ understanding of basic behavioral principles as applied with children. The attitude variables measured parents’ self-ratings of parenting skills and parental beliefs about children’s independence and freedom. The behavioral variables measured changes in parental perceptions of their children’s behavior and satisfaction with problem solutions generated with their children. In addition, changes in children’s self-concept were measured.
There was no significant interaction effect between pre-testing and treatment nor was the main effect of pre-test sensitization significant. Subjects were not influenced by pre-testing and a practice effect did not influence the subjects’ responses on the multiple evaluative measures. However, there was a significant difference between the treatment and nontreatment groups. Analysis determined that the difference between the groups was solely attributed to two parental attitude variables. Parents who participated in the program developed more tolerant attitudes toward their children and viewed themselves as better parents than those who did not participate. There was no indication that parents’ knowledge of basic behavioral child-rearing principles increased, nor did parents report significant changes in their children’s behavior following participation in the program. There was no significant increase in children’s self-concept as a result of their parents’ participation in the program.