Skillful Parenting is a program developed by ICS that supports parents in Kenya and Tanzania in raising children and improving the welfare of vulnerable families. Two researchers at the University of Utrecht studied the effects of our training methods among participants. The conclusions are positive.
In 2014 and 2015 two researchers from the University of Utrecht looked into the effects the training program had on families in Western Kenya. We wanted independent research to tell us whether it was working or not and why. The results are particularly positive. The program has had a clear impact: parents feel more capable and self-confident and have become more aware of the supportive role they play in the social, emotional and mental development of their children. Communications between parenting partners and their children has changed as well, which has improved the interaction and cooperation among family members. Moreover, parents are using less physical punishment and more often choosing a positive alternative to correcting behavior in their children.
The program has been successful, according to the researchers, because the methods have been tailored to the local context and culture. Participants are expected to take part actively, to contribute to discussions, to share and to reflect. The approach to raising children is traditionally passed down the generations, but parents are now conscious of the importance of their role and the opportunity to change how children grow up and how their future will look.
Traditionally fathers in Kenya and Tanzania are the breadwinners for the family. Fathers are often the authoritarians of the household and do not get involved with upbringing, as is expected of mothers. The training course Skillful Parenting has given many fathers insight into the importance of being more involved and of supporting their wives in raising the children, and that this builds a better bond with their children. And it turns out that many fathers prefer this new approach to the old: they are more aware of the influence they can have on their children’s lives and feel a greater sense of control.
One of the participating fathers (43): “There were certain responsibilities that I believed and felt were not mine but belonged to my wife, like giving the children a bath. Now when I’m home I sometimes put the children in bath and that’s really changed things in our family.”
Photos: On Father’s Day in Tanzania last year ICS organized a contest. Whoever managed to properly fit a diaper on a baby doll, then run a track with the doll in a carrier on the back and do so with a bucket of water on their head won a cow. That wasn’t so easy… By organizing such fun and crazy events, it highlights and raises questions about the role of fathers in raising children.
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