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The Power of Parent Leaders!

By Parents Anonymous

When parents engage in meaningful leadership roles, they have a powerful impact! Parent Leaders are committed parents who work to make their community's schools, social services, health care providers and other resources more responsive to and supportive of children and families. They may be parents, grandparents, kinship care providers, foster parents, or anyone in a parenting role. They speak and act from their own perspectives and not in a staff role for an organization.

Shared Leadership - - when Parent Leaders and staff work together on mutual goals - - creates even greater success for all concerned. It is achieved when parents and staff build strong partnerships and share responsibility, expertise and leadership in areas that affect families and communities. Shared Leadership provides multiple perspectives and diverse strengths and talents, the result of which is the achievement of better outcomes.

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Research (Kouzes & Posner) has shown that everyone has the potential to become a leader. Three ways to learn about leadership are:

" From others who serve as role models
" From formal trainings
" By just taking action

Useful information can be gained and skills and knowledge can be built by participating in training, such as the Parents Anonymous® Inc. Shared Leadership in Action training. Sometimes the best way to grow stronger as a leader is to just decide what you most want to accomplish, develop a plan to reach your goal and begin working toward it. You will learn by trial and error. The good news is that you will learn a tremendous amount about leadership no matter what happens as a result of your efforts.

Important supports for Parent Leaders are:

" Contact with other parents in leadership roles;
" Opportunities to take on leadership roles, however small at first, and a safe setting in which to practice them;
" A relationship with another person who is respected and trusted and who provides important feedback and support;
" A sense of belonging to the group or organization where the leadership skills are put into practice.

There are tremendous benefits to building your skills as a Parent Leader and working in Shared Leadership to accomplish your goals. It can also affect other parts of your life as you change and grow. The following examples highlight some of these benefits for parents, children and families.

" Serving as a Parent Leader provides opportunities for growth and helps parents gain increased self-esteem, a stronger sense of personal power and greater leadership capabilities.
" Parent Leaders increase their skills in setting and reaching specific goals for themselves, their families and their communities.
" Parent Leaders often garner increased respect from their family members and friends.
" Often, children of Parent Leaders begin to demonstrate leadership behaviors appropriate for their age in their homes, schools and communities.

Parents can take on valuable roles as Parent Leaders in many ways. Examples are:
" Serving on boards and councils
" Advocating for individuals, families and/or programs
" Starting a new program in your community
" Participating in Focus Groups
" Becoming a spokesperson for a local organization
" Joining a task force

Now that you have your idea, it's time to put it into action. After thoughtfully assessing your readiness to become a Parent Leader, you are ready to develop a realistic plan for expanding your work in Shared Leadership. Here are some areas to consider.

" What goals do I want to accomplish? By when?
" Whose help do I need, particularly related to my family, friends, employer, staff, and Parent Leader partners?
" What resources do I need, particularly related to financial support, childcare, transportation and training?
" What steps do I need to take to accomplish my goals?
" What individuals and groups need to be involved to help me accomplish my goals?
You can do it! It will not only change your life for the better, it will have a positive impact on the lives of your family members and on your community as well. You, too, can be a Power Parent. You, too, can make a difference.

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Founded in 1969, Parents Anonymous® Inc. is the nation's oldest child abuse prevention organization. A national leader in helping individuals, organizations and systems achieve meaningful Shared Leadership by building partnerships between parents and staff, Parents Anonymous® Inc. leads a dynamic international Network of accredited organizations and affiliates that implement quality Parents Anonymous® Groups and Children's Programs.

In weekly, free of charge, Parents Anonymous Groups, parents find a caring, supportive environment where they can learn new parenting strategies, increase their ability to deal with stress, build their leadership skills, expand their social support networks and develop realistic expectations of themselves and their children. While parents are meeting, their children participate in complementary Children's Programs to promote their positive growth and development.

Visit the Parents Anonymous® Inc. Web site, www.parentsanonymous.org for more information about Parents Anonymous® Inc.

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