Parenting Better

Parenting, particularly for multicultural and migrant families, can be particularly challenging when parents are dealing with attachment and trauma-related issues stemming from displacement or migration, unresolved mental health issues, the pressure of cultural assimilation, and the ongoing impacts of systemic discrimination. Migrant and multicultural families may have different cultural beliefs and values that influence their parenting styles. Understanding and respecting these differences, and empowering parents to recognise their strengths without having to continue negative generational cycles while also teaching them skills to support their children, is crucial for parenting success.

However, as mental health practitioners with years of experience working with young people and families, we noticed when delivering these parenting programs that there was no representation or understanding of parents or carers who have lived experience of migration or displacement, who are proud of their blended multicultural identity, or those for whom their cultural beliefs and values are just as important as growth and integration into a new country and culture. Our community-based collaborator found that her own experience of being a single parent, migrant, and woman of colour was never talked about in the resources she was able to access. In our experience, mainstream parenting programs did not speak to the experience of parents and carers straddling the intersectionalities of culture, disability, religion, or language.

And so Parenting Better was born - a parenting coaching program designed specifically keeping in mind these needs for parents from multicultural and migrant families, using evidence-based, trauma and attachment-informed strategies incorporating values and cultural identity. Our collaboration, between a not-for-profit wellbeing organisation and accredited mental health practitioners, brings together our strengths in community engagement and clinical expertise. Our parenting sessions teach attachment theory-based and trauma-informed parenting skills. We address the  impact of trauma on parenting and child development, teach the importance of communication, emotional regulation, setting boundaries, and positive discipline, and the value of self-care in parental well-being. We further support participants to access service providers and relevant resources.

Along with Soulspace, we have delivered this program in English for mixed multicultural groups, and in Tamil for Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker families through Settlement Services International. We will also be taking Parenting Better to the inaugural FECCA National Multicultural Health and Wellbeing Conference in Sydney in November 2023! We strongly believe that this program can be replicated for multicultural communities across Australia and justifies the need for culturally affirming parenting programs.