How the Teaching-Family Model changed my life
When I learn something that excites me—something that makes me or my world better—I always want to share it with others. This was the foundation for me pursuing a degree in Speech Communication. I wanted to learn all I could about how to communicate better, apply it in my life, and then teach it to others. So when I discovered the Families First program at Utah Youth Village, I was so excited that a program like this existed and instantly wanted to be a part of it. The Families First program is an “intensive in-home intervention designed to teach parents skills to change the unwanted behaviors of their children, and to improve family functioning.” I had thought about teaching in a business or school setting, but I had never heard of going into homes and teaching parents and children. Having the title of social worker was something I had never considered, even though my education and desire to teach others was in line with that career. To be completely honest, after I was given the job offer, I was terrified. How was I supposed to teach parenting skills right out of college when I have no kids of my own? On top of this, I was on-call to the families I worked with 24/7 so I had to know how to help instantly if crisis situations arose.
Then came the answer to my fears: the Teaching-Family Model. “The Model” as we often refer to it, gives a blueprint for how to teach and respond to children at any stage of behavior modification and can be used by anyone who interacts with children. Although the tools are simple, it took me time and practice in all types of situations to be fully confident in using the skills. I also learned that anyone can apply the Teaching-Family Model and create change in their own family. During my 5 years with Families First as a licensed Social Service Worker (SSW), I worked with over 300 families, either directly or in a supervisory role. I participated in everything from building relationships to meeting with probation officers and school teachers to managing crisis situations at unexpected times. I trained over 20 new Families First Specialists in the Teaching-Family Model and then helped them apply it by working together with families.
Eventually the time came for me to start my own family. My daughter came to the office with me for the first few months until my husband and I moved out of state for his graduate degree. Although my job training parents in the Teaching-Family Model had ended, I instinctively continued to use the skills with my own family and other children I interacted with.
We spent the next few years visiting beautiful places, meeting wonderful people, and learning more about ourselves and life than we ever thought possible. Now I am incredibly lucky to start this new journey as a writer for Smarter Parenting. I am grateful to be sharing the Teaching-Family Model again. I hope through my experience in family’s homes, and my personal experiences in applying it with my own children, I can help parents teach their children in a positive way, because kids truly don’t come with manuals.