“Raising children is one of the toughest yet most fulfilling jobs in the world. And one for which you might feel the least prepared,” Chellise McPherson, Kingstown Anglican School’s guidance counselor told ANN recently. She was reporting on the benefits members of both the Kingstown Anglican and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic schools’ parent body gained from the most recent episode of parent training clinics being produced across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

One of 3 fathers with KAS counselor Chellise McPherson

According to McPherson, the primary goal of these two-days workshops is to equip parents with better child rearing skills. On February 25 and 27 the Ministry of Education’s department of Student Support Services and the counselors at both primary schools joined together to provide 29 parents with better insight on topics such as punishment versus discipline, conflict resolution, budgeting, how to talk with your children about sexuality, safety and technology and domestic and child abuse among others.

The Student Support Services department was established in 2009 with a mandate “to provide behavioural and academic support to students at risk,” Services Coordinator Jasmine Creese- shared with ANN. She further explained, “to this end the department is involved in working with parents, teachers and students to provide positive behavioural support.” The services offered include counseling for either an individual or the entire family, facilitating the two days of parenting workshops which are held twice per month and conducting the “Behaviour Modification 3 week vacation programme throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Donimie Free attended her first parenting workshop and was full of praise for the information garnered from the presentations made by Jasmine François-Creese, Dr. Jean DaSilva and Verdine Roberts – all of whom facilitated. She said, “it was informative and educational. I learnt a lot having my first child at 40 and he’s now 9, I learnt about masturbation and how to talk to your children about sex. I had the talk with him over the weekend and it was great, it was wonderful. So I would go back to the other workshops.”

Onesia John told us, “I went to this workshop ignorant of a lot of the issues that were dealt with. For example, how to deal with my child when he is unruly, instead of punishment I learnt how to discipline him in a proper way. I learnt that parenting in general is hard but if you co-orperate with your children it can be an easy task. I also learnt to teach your child not to let anyone touch their whole body because their whole body is a private entity.”

The workshop was conducted at the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment conference room and ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Of the parents who availed themselves of the educational opportunity, three were fathers. Altogether, they engaged in various role-playing exercises and other activities.

Luvene John, counselor at the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School, joined with her Kingstown Anglican counterpart to express elation at the responses from the parents engaged. “Many parents expressed gratitude for the information received and are confident that they will be using the techniques and strategies learnt with their children at home,” McPherson said.