Save money by sorting out your relationship with kids
A better relationship with your teenager improves family finances, lowers stress and reduces dependence on alcohol
A better relationship with your teenager improves family finances, lowers stress and reduces dependence on alcohol.
The discovery comes from a groundbreaking parenting initiative piloted in the Eastern Cape which has now been rolled out as far afield as Europe and Asia.
Writing about the trial in the online journal BMJ Global Health, researchers say caregivers who took part in the programme – called Sinovuyo Teen or Parenting for Lifelong Health – reported being less depressed about parenting and even said they often did not run out of money, food and electricity at the end of the month.
“We think that it helped by giving families the opportunity to solve problems together. It’s stressful bringing up a teenager in the best of circumstances, and it’s stressful to be a teenager. Poverty and high-crime environments make things even harder,” said Professor Lucie Cluver.
“But learning simple things like how to praise each other and to plan together for how to make your child support grant last through the month seem to really help.“Sometimes it also helped to learn strategies to calm down when you get angry. We found that families really want to do the best for their kids, but sometimes need some help to make it possible.”
Cluver said they were surprised to find the programme had led to a reduction in alcohol and drug abuse among caregivers and teenagers. It could be that caregivers, who were usually women, were less stressed because “life is just a bit easier when everyone is not screaming at each other at home”. And teenagers were possibly using less alcohol and drugs because parental supervision had improved.
One caregiver said: “It gave us knowledge of things we had no clue about. Things like how to nurture a child, we discovered them there in Sinovuyo. Children should be treated equally. You must not hassle a child by beating him.”
And a teenager remarked: “The thing I loved the most is learning to spend time with my mom, becoming close and talking about things … I never used to want to be at home. But now I find it important to spend time with a parent and be open with her. And tell her my problems.”Cluver, from Oxford University in the UK, worked in collaboration with the WHO, Unicef, the University of Cape Town and Clowns Without Borders South Africa to develop the programme.Jamie McLaren Lachman, who has a doctorate in social intervention from the University of Oxford and is a well-known clown and performer, is the founder of Clowns Without Borders in South Africa. His organisation had several facilitators working on the programme, including Sipho Mdletshe (Mr Pink Tights) and Sibongile Tsoanyane (Gogo).Lachman said they were “thrilled” about the positive results of the programme, which had helped some of the most vulnerable families in South Africa.“It is also very exciting that our work in South Africa has become a model of excellence for taking parenting programmes to scale in over 15 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa and internationally,” he said.According to the research paper, the trial was the first of its kind for adolescents in Africa. By 2020, about 200,000 families are expected to have participated in the programme around the world.
“Each country has adapted the programme for local languages and cultures, and some have added components such as menstrual hygiene, child labour information or HIV-prevention education,” the report said.
“Furthermore, versions of the programme are being implemented with diverse groups, such as deinstitutionalised children and adolescent children of sex workers.”