Parenting is hard work at the best of times. Parenting in a new country and culture brings additional challenges. With this in mind, we are about to start an exciting project to empower African-born parents to raise happy, healthy Australian-born children.
Family is fundamentally important within our local African-Australian communities. However, the expectations and traditions of parents are increasingly at odds with those of their Australian-born children.
With the help of a Social Innovation Partnership grant from the City of Melbourne, we will be spending the next two years developing a local, accessible, culturally appropriate parenting program. The goal is to reduce intergenerational conflict and help families to thrive.
Naturally, we’ll be talking to lots of parents and children as we undertake this work – drawing on their existing strengths and capabilities to create change.
Parenting programs are not new. However most tend to be Anglo-centric, expensive and follow a set curriculum. They also rely on participants having a uniformly high level of English – making them inaccessible for many migrant families. We plan to enlist the input of both adults and children to design a parenting program that is constantly adaptable and responsive. Having the whole family involved in co-design helps to ensure that the needs and values of both parents and children are genuinely being addressed.
Many families have complicated lives. However, with the right support parents can be a powerful source of change, regardless of challenging circumstances. We are looking forward to helping parents learn the skills to build better relationships within their families. Children growing up in positive family environments will in turn form healthy relationships of their own, ensuring greater resilience for our community as a whole – and that can only be a good thing.