Health Watch/Copper Country Mental Health/Taryn Mack, Institute Director

Parenting Awareness Michigan (PAM) celebrates people raising children and promotes year round education and resources for parents and caregivers. Its mission is to promote parenting awareness, education, and resources- through state outreach and local efforts-emphasizing the importance of effective parenting in nurturing children to become caring and contributing citizens.

The Parenting Awareness Michigan initiative has been in existence since 1993, when it began as an awareness month to promote parenting, the foundation for guiding children and youth to be healthy and drug free. PAM began as the idea of one parent, a father. Within a short time PAM has evolved into a year round initiative. Parenting Awareness Michigan is coordinated out of Prevention Network, a statewide organization that works to build the capacity of individuals and community groups to be involved in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention. Prevention Network is a 501 (c) (3) organization that has been in existence since 1984. Many parenting resources can be found on the PAM website: preventionnetwork.org/parenting-awareness.aspx

“Parenting is for a Lifetime” is the PAM slogan. As a parent, this is a good motto to live by. Parenting changes throughout your children’s lifetime, but your job as a parent never ends. As babies, children need to have their basic needs met by their parent or caregiver. They also need to be nurtured to create bonds of love and trust with their parents. When children enter school parents need to be there to support children in learning, developing friends, teaching responsibility and respect for others.

Teenage years may be difficult as children become more independent. At this time parents need additional skills like communication, building positive parent-child relationships, setting clear expectations, rule setting, consistent discipline, appropriate monitoring/supervision, and managing family conflict. It is important to help your teen make healthy choices while encouraging them to make their own decisions.

As children become adults, parenting doesn’t end – it continues to change. Parents become more of a coach or mentor providing guidance and support to their adult children. They will ask your opinion, but don’t assume they will always take your advice.

It is important that as our children grow our parenting style changes with them. Finding and utilizing the tools that are available to us to do the best job possible in raising caring, capable adults. These tools can be found at local parenting classes, speakers or seminars. Reliable websites like the PAM website mentioned above. You can also check out parenting books at the local library or purchase them through local books stores or online. You can join your local PTA or other parenting groups. It is important to stay connected to the parents of your children’s friends.

Take some time during the month of March to celebrate being a parent. Many people say it is the hardest job you will ever have. It can also be one of the most rewarding jobs!

Editor’s note:?Taryn Mack is the director at the Copper Country Mental Health Services Institute