Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Parenting Programs, Culture and Being Well-Educated

Being well-educated (bien educados) has several meanings in the homes of children of Hispanic descent. In a meaning that is particularly important in such homes, it often refers to being educated in a social and interpersonal sense, such as knowing ones place and role in the family, and being respectful to others and particularly respectful to elders. It can also mean being well-educated in an intellectual and academic sense, such as maintaining and achieving high grades and academic standards.

These meanings are brought to the forefront in a child management program designed especially for parents of Hispanic children, the Los Ninos Bien Educados Program of the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring (CICC). The first session of this 12 session program begins by an exploration of the meaning that the parents give to the Spanish term for well-educated, "bien educados." For some parents this is a term that they often use in relating and referring to their children; with other parents it is a term that was and/or is used by grandparents and other elders. Inevitably, the definition that parents of Hispanic descent offer always includes the social/interpersonal meaning, with its emphasis on proper social behavior.

Then the instructor engages the parents in defining exactly what they mean by referring to a child as "bien educados." The instructor asks them to indicate the specific behaviors that a child who is "bien educados" would display, such as cooperative and respectful ways of relating to parents, sisters, brothers and classmates.

Then the parents are informed that the program is designed to provide them with additional skills and strategies for bringing out more of the child behaviors they define as reflective of a child who is "bien educados." These skills include the art of effective praising, and providing attention and other rewards after and not before the child does chores and homework (the "first you work, then you play" skill).

The instructor further indicates that the program also helps parents deal productively with those behaviors they define as reflective of a child who is "mal educados," where limit-setting and verbal confrontation skills are taught. In a particularly illuminating session, the program promotes a discussion of the ways that traditional male and female roles are changing and the conflicts and misunderstandings that result.

Thus, what is taught throughout the entire program is framed around a value and meaning that has particular cultural importance to the parents, and which makes the program and its teachings familiar and relevant.

CICC created this national model program in the early 1980s and has trained over 1500 instructors from schools and agencies nationwide to run it with the parents they serve. Most of the skills that are taught in the program are from a basic child management program for all parents, called the Confident Parenting Program. Thus, the Los Ninos Bien Educados Program would be considered as child management program that is culturally-adpated.

CICC has found that the program's emphasis on the social/interpersonal meaning of being well-educated with its focus on knowing ones place and role in the family, also resonates extremely well with families of Asian descent. Indeed, several agencies and schools that serve Asian American families have selected Los Ninos Bien Educados as their parenting program of choice, because of these cultural similarities.

How You and Your Community Can Benefit from this Program

To learn how you can bring the Los Ninos Bien Educados Program to your community through having instructors trained to deliver it, click here.

To learn how CICC can send an instructor to your area to lead a one-day seminar in this program for groups of parents, click here.

To obtain the Parents Handbooks and other materials from the program in English, click here.

To obtain the Parents Handbooks and other materials from the program in Spanish, click here.

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