Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Parenting and the President - Part 6 - History and Issues Regarding the Effective Parenting Initiative

The idea of a federal government-supported Effective Parenting Initiative (see Part 5 of this series) began germinating when I was honored at the White House in 1995.

As part of the ceremonies to commemorate the signing of the legislation that created National Parents Day, I was invited to the Oval Office to receive a commendation for my and CICC’s work in educating and assisting hundreds of thousands of parents including large numbers of parents of African American children.

That gave me an opportunity to speak with both President and Mrs. Clinton about what I have referred to as an Effective Parenting Movement and to encourage them to champion the movement as part of what their administration was doing to assist families. Both seemed quite interested, and Mrs. Clinton accepted a copy of my book, Parent Training Today: A Social Necessity, where the movement was described. She indicated she would read about it.

The experience at the White House was awesome and thrilling; being appreciated for my life’s work by the President and the First Lady in the home of our democracy. My only regret was that my parents, Jews who had immigrated to this country from Europe before the Holocaust, were not alive to see their youngest child so honored.

I followed up on this visit by trying to find who in the White House would be the appropriate people to work with. I was initially oriented to the President’s Commission for Women.

Over the next year, while I was in Washington to speak at various conferences or to serve as a parenting expert on committees of different government departments (click here to learn more about my background), I had meetings and lunches in the White House with Women’s Commission representatives to discuss how the administration could proceed.

The first idea was to create a Presidential Commission on Effective Parenting, like a Presidential Commission on Physical Fitness. I was asked to write a position paper on this possibility which I gladly did. Then, after about a year relating to the Women’s Commission, I was told they were not the appropriate body in the White House to consider these policy-laden ideas. They apologized somewhat sheepishly, indicating that they had wanted to bring these ideas to the President themselves.

Then they oriented me to the Domestic Policy Council in the White House and to the person on the Council who had responsibility for children’s issues. That person was also on the staff of the First Lady.

She asked me to address the likelihood that such a Presidential undertaking would be criticized as the government telling parents how to raise their children. I shared with her the numerous government programs that had been in existence for over a century that assisted parents in raising children. All of these programs were part of larger efforts to promote health and child safety, alleviate poverty, prevent child abuse and neglect, prevent and treat mental health, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency problems, and to involve parents in the education of their children. Literally hundreds of such programs were in existence already. She was amazed at how extensively the government of our nation had been and currently is in helping parents to support and raise their children.

The next step was to convene a briefing in the White House for the heads of the various government departments and agencies who were currently administering parenting enhancement programs. They needed to be on board and informed about the Presidential Commission that was being suggested. Also during this time, we had invited the President and the First Lady to speak at a national parenting conference that we sponsored. Their schedules did not allow for their participation. Instead, the First Lady taped a message that was played at the conference.

Here is that message...

The planning with the people from the Domestic Policy Council was happening during the last half of 1997. It came to an abrupt halt early in 1998 when the Monica Lewinsky scandal overwhelmed and consumed the Clinton Presidency.

It took me and CICC years to forgive President Clinton and to want to go back to Washington to promote an effective parenting agenda.

But we did. Next you will learn about our efforts during the George W. Bush administration.


How You Can Be Involved...

You can participate by commenting on this and future articles in The Parenting and the President series.

You can become supportive through letting the world know that it would be a better place if all children were raised by effective and sensitive parents who receive excellent parenting education. You can express such sentiments through signing our online Effective Parenting Petition (check here).

And /or you can become a member and supporter of the NEPI, the National Effective Parenting Initiative.

There are three types of memberships available, each of which has its own series of educational benefits and involvement opportunities. Click on the membership type you are most interested in learning about:

Your membership dues are not only used to provide the member benefits but to also support the various advocacy actions that are needed to bring these important matters to the attention of the president and the public in general. This entire effort is of a grassroots nature and membership dues, and funds that have been contributed to CICC over the years, are the only monies that are supporting it now.

For those of you who want to make a financial contribution but do not want to become members of NEPI, you can support this grassroots effort by making a tax-deductible contribution to CICC.

Click here to donate.

1 comment:

  1. I personally was at the National Parenting Conference when Hilary spoke and found the whole experience to be extremely effective as well as invigorating. Unfortunately the parent movement lost ground when the Bush #2 took office. Given the current state of our country, we need to bring effective parenting training to the forefront for the toughest job any of us will ever have or we can lose a generation. Bill Ernisse, VP, Xerox Corp