The Approach

The intervention approach underlying the use of each of the tools in the kit is centred on listening to parents; it is supported by visual materials that promote an attitude of openness and exchange.

The kit is based on a multimodal approach that builds upon parents’ resilience and strengths, as well as on their various coping strategies. For more information on the development of this model, see the chapter L’intervention auprès des familles à risque. Une approche multimodale qui mise sur la résilience.

The For Me, as a Parent… kit is neither a program nor an evaluation instrument, but rather an intervention support tool that offers concrete aid to professionals working to support parents in their roles with their children. Based on an approach that builds upon parents’ skills, needs and motivations, the For Me, as a Parent… kit offers a set of tools for discussion and interaction that can enhance and facilitate the application of support programs already in place.

The materials in the kit are suitable for all parents of children ages 0 to 11 years. The target parents might be those who: (a) live in extremely vulnerable situations (e.g. parents followed after having been reported to the director of youth protection); (b) are known to be at risk (e.g. target clientele of programs for integrated perinatal and early childhood services); (c) present a specific characteristic (e.g. intellectual disability); or (d) have a child with a particular challenge (e.g. autism, handicap, ADHD).

Why the illustrations do not portray ethnic diversity

This question is becoming increasingly relevant as ethnic diversity is growing in organizations, especially in urban centers. Also, psychosocial intervention has been cloistered for much too long in a form of ethnocentricity that has reflected only the dominant culture in society. Nevertheless, there were two reasons underlying our decision to represent all persons as Caucasian. First, we wanted to avoid introducing any diversionary factors that might bias the parents’’ choice of illustrations, a choice based on their own everyday reality. Then, we also wanted to avoid associating any particular quality, skill or activity with one culture or another. On the other hand, practitioners can take cultural diversity into account by using the blank cards provided in the kit for each of the themes. These blank cards enable parents to make suggestions that are more in line with their own situations. Some professionals have also translated into the parents’’ native language the titles of the illustrations. Providing these new titles was helpful to support discussions and compensate for certain linguistic constraints (See Testimonials).

How the kit came to be

The concept and content of the For Me, as a Parent… kit emerged out of the research project Parents’ competencies and the resources supporting them.

The research program was based on two studies: “Résilience et soutien social chez les mères monoparentales en situation d’adversité,” funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC grant, 2001–2004) and “Les compétences parentales et les ressources d’aide des familles en situation d’adversité : le point de vue des parents et des intervenants,” funded by the RRSSSO and the MSSSQ (Programme de Subvention en Santé Publique, 2001–2002). The research program was conducted from 2001 to 2006 under the direction of professors S. Lavigueur, S. Coutu and D. Dubeau in the QEMVIE Research Group.)

The objective of that research was to inventory, document and describe parents’ strengths and expressions of their resilience in situations of vulnerability, as well as the support resources available in their social network. To better understand how competencies manifested among parents and their social network, the study explored two primary themes: the art of being a parent, and the art of assisting a parent. To this end, we conducted numerous semi-structured interviews with 60 psychosocial professionals and 129 parents of children aged 2 to 5 years with and without various adversity factors.

Logo, Moi comme parent.

With respect to form, much time and energy went into developing visual materials that were sufficiently appealing to create a climate of open and meaningful exchange with parents in the interviews. In fact, several parents explicitly mentioned how much they enjoyed participating, and especially responding to questions using illustrations, which made the discussion easy and fun. At the same time, an exceptionally low drop-out rate between the first and second interviews (4/129) gave further evidence of participants’ positive perceptions. For more information, see the study report Le rapport de recherche Les compétences des parents et les ressources qui les aident.

Following the study, when we presented our methodological approach and results at various conferences, several participants expressed interest in using some of our data collection instruments (illustrations, question framework, diagrams, lists of examples) in their professional practice. They spontaneously saw these as tools that could facilitate communication and support their work with parents they were following. This need led to the creation of the For Me, as a Parent… kit, an intervention tool that emerged quite naturally as a significant product of our research.

A preliminary and partial version of the kit was tested with a first group of professionals who agreed to use and adapt the tools in the context of their professional practice with parents. Several changes were made to the visual materials based on this feedback; these adjustments helped to strengthen the initial objective, which was to facilitate open, non-judgmental discussion with parents by focusing on their strengths and those of their children and social networks.