February is Parent Leadership Month! Parent leadership helps families to focus on and grow from their strengths, which fosters healthy children and strong communities. Circle of Parents groups are places where caregivers can support each other and where every parent’s leadership skills can shine.

This month, Illuminate will be diving into how every parent is a leader in their community, and how Circle of Parents nurtures leadership skills so caregivers can be their best selves for their families. Join us!

Parent leadership looks different for everyone.

There are many ways caregivers can show up as leaders in Circle of Parents groups. While some might be leaders by texting other participants to check in, see if they need any support, and encourage them to attend that day’s meeting, others may take the lead in setting up the space for the meeting, or by taking attendance. Although all of these actions are different, each is essential to the functioning of the group, and are important ways in which caregivers show up as leaders.

The most important part of parent leadership is being present. When you think of the word leader, titles like president, manager, or even facilitator might come to mind. But, to be a leader, all a caregiver needs to do is be consistent in how they show up for their family and community. Every caregiver is a leader in their own important and irreplaceable way.

To the caregivers out there: Think about the first time that another parent came to you for advice. You listening to that person’s struggles was you being a leader!

Parent leadership builds the Five Protective Factors.

There are Five Protective Factors that help families to thrive by providing a buffer against risk factors associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Parent leadership skills that caregivers learn in Circle of Parents® groups help to build the Five Protective Factors, strengthening families and improving outcomes for children.

The Five Protective Factors Are:

  • Parental Resilience

  • Social Connections

  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Social Connections

Parent leaders in Circle of Parents groups reach out to each other if someone misses a group, and even schedule coffee chats if other caregivers are in need of the extra support. These social connections help to limit isolation that caregivers often feel, which reduces stress.

Parental Resilience

Caregivers in Circle of Parents groups listen and show empathy when other participants share their struggles. They also celebrate each other’s successes and build connections by asking them about their lives outside of parenting, like hobbies and interests. This culture offers a space where caregivers know they can share openly and receive the support, advice, and connection they need in return.

Concrete Support in Times of Need

Circle of Parents participants show up for each other in any way that is needed. For example, caregivers often share knowledge of community resources or offer to accompany another parent to an appointment. These simple yet impactful acts help to bridge the gaps in support in caregivers’ lives. When caregivers are able to access the resources or services that their families need, barriers are dismantled and stress is reduced.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

While there may not be a manual for being a caregiver, learning about parenting and how children develop is critical in building the Five Protective Factors. Parent leaders support each other by offering encouraging suggestions during potty training, by attending classes together to learn about topics like teens and cell phones, or sharing their knowledge on a certain stage of child development.

Social and Emotional Competence of Children

In Circle of Parents groups, caregivers learn to normalize sharing their feelings and emotions and how to model clear communication. Caregivers also learn about new and healthy ways to interact with their children, like how to increase their bond by letting their child lead an activity.

Every parent brings unique leadership skills to the table– let’s celebrate them all!

Parents show up as leaders for their families and communities every day. Whether it be by sharing advice with another parent, offering to help out by bringing over dinner on a hectic day, or just by being present and open to connection, all caregivers are essential leaders. During Parent Leadership Month, and throughout the year, we celebrate caregivers across Colorado.

There’s a Circle of Parents group for everyone.

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