Glen Burnie parenting program opens Oakwood 'resource center'

October 05, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Renea Estep said her daughter didn't exactly start the school year off on the right foot.

"I dressed her and sent her to school one way, and she came home dressed another way. And wearing make-up," Ms. Estep said. "And she's in the fourth grade!"

But instead of throwing up her hands, Ms. Estep decided to seek help, by joining the Parenting For Success Program at Oakwood Elementary School in Glen Burnie.

"We've just had so many problems lately, I just thought it would be interesting to come out and see what they have to say," Ms. Estep said.

Along with about 20 other parents, Ms. Estep and her fiance, Delano Watkins, attended the first meeting of the parenting program Thursday evening. Couples, single parents and even one grandmother came out to see what the program had to offer.

The group, which will meet from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. every Thursday for the next six weeks, is the first group to meet in Oakwood's new Parent Resource Center.

Designed to provide both parent organizations with a place to meet and counselors with a place to gather needed materials, the resource center is a pilot program for the rest of the county. It is also open to the parents of students at nearby Woodside, Glendale and George Cromwell elementary schools.

"This is your center," Pat Barton, a counselor at Oakwood and a co-instructor of the parenting program, told the group of parents. "Certainly as a parent, your being here says you see the connection between your involvement and your child's success."

The parenting program has proven quite popular. When it was mentioned in the year's first school newsletter, the class was immediately filled, Mrs. Barton said.

"Our main focus has always been on student success," she said. "Research shows that when parents get involved in the schools, the students' achievement improves."

Mrs. Barton and co-instructor Brenda Hurbanis said their titles are really misnomers. They are not here to "teach" parents how to be better, but to guide them in the right direction.

"Yes, the purpose is to learn some things about parenting, but it's also to talk to other parents," Mrs. Barton said. "You will decide what issues you want to focus on, what's important to you."

A bonus is that parents don't have to worry about finding someone to watch their kids every Thursday night. The children can be found just down the hall participating in Raising Adolescent Pride (RAP), a personal safety program for children ages 6 to 11.

During the first class, parents played a game of "Parent Bingo," moving around the room and finding out about each other's parenting skills. Before the end of the first class, parents had to decide what topics they will focus on during the upcoming weeks.

Rhonda Hawkins wanted to know how to make her daughter understand, "I'm the mom." Ms. Estep and Mr. Watkins wanted to know how to get their daughter to do her homework. Robin Cwalina wanted to focus on issues that deal with how to cope as a single mother.

The list continued, but by the end of the first session, parents had narrowed their concerns into four focus areas: discipline, communication, stress and self-esteem.

"I'm especially interested in self-esteem," Ms. Cwalina said. "My daughter is in first grade and everything is so new to her; it's overwhelming. I just want to make her feel it's OK to make a mistake."

Shelly Clifford also found a topic that piqued her interest, even though she hadn't signed up for the parenting program and had come only to bring her daughter to RAP. The topic was sibling rivalry.

"I have a three-week-old baby and my 9-year-old is having a fit," Ms. Clifford said. "We can use the help."

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