The below excerpt from an August 9th Catholic New World article features Midtown Parent Program Director, Arturo Baranda:
Classes for parents help curb violence, experts say
There’s no question that violence is a serious problem in our country with recent mass shootings like those at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Chicago and the surrounding area are not immune to the violence either. With 272 homicides in Chicago from the beginning of 2015 through Aug. 2, community leaders are trying everything to curb the violence.
That includes stopping violence before it starts, by teaching parents how to relate to their children, teaching them to show love and express anger effectively and set limits on their behavior.
That was one of seven points listed by Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin in his plan to reduce gun violence in Chicago, and it was applauded by Arturo Baranda, parent program manager for Midtown Educational Foundation. Midtown, a not-for-profit sponsored by Opus Dei that runs after-school and summer programs for boys from fourth through 12th grade, and Metro [Achievement Center], its companion program for girls, include parent education at every session.
The first thing Baranda does with the parents at Midtown and Metro is help them figure out their own identity.
“We have parents who get married, who have children, and have no idea who they are,” he said. “We try to give them a box of tools to sort that out, and emphasize the importance of always trying to be a better parent.”
The next thing is to help them figure out who their children are, and understand that their children are always changing, and that parents must listen and pay attention to learn what their children need at any given time.
“The kids give you a lot of information you ignore,” Baranda said. “When the kids go to school, they come back home as a different person, because there are other influences on them. You have to learn who they are in this new day.”
Because parenting is an ongoing challenge, parents are asked to meet at least briefly each week when their children are at the center, he said. The idea is to help parents focus their children on the future and decide what it is they are called to do, as well as to give their children age-appropriate responsibility.
“Otherwise, we are going to have people who are sheep instead of shepherds,” he said.