Photo: Halona Blow Hole Hawaii

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Building a Parent Community

Submitted by cdsweb on Nov 6, 2017

Becoming a parent is one of the most beautiful and rewarding roles one can have in a lifetime. Parents have the amazing opportunity to mold, nurture, protect and lead the path for their children. They are are world changers, magic makers, and super heroes! They scare the monsters away, kiss boo boos, wipe runny noses, and give the best hugs and snuggles. This job is 24/7. Parents can’t call in sick and they are always on call.  The pressure of juggling work, a social life, and making sure to keep this tiny human alive can be a bit much at times.

This very important and demanding job has no instruction manual or video tutorial sent home with new parents leaving the hospital.  Even though parents may have set up a themed color coordinated nursery and purchased the cutest and most popular bottles, diapers, and wipes recommended by the clerk at the baby store, many parents still feel unprepared when their sweet, powder fresh, smooth skinned bundle of joy emerges out of the womb and announces his or her presence on earth. The truth is, hospitals release this delicate creature to their parents and really the only thing on their checklist is, “Do you have a carseat?” The rest gets figured out along the way.  Isn’t it interesting that when a person purchases a flat screen television, smart phone, microwave, car, or even a box of cake, those all come with instruction manuals or directions? Yet, caring for this delicate little human does not.

Even if there was a “How to Parent” guide or manual that was sent home with baby, all children are unique and different in their own way. No matter how prepared one tries to be, there is always something to learn.  Every day comes with a new challenge and it is often difficult to keep up.  The quote “it takes a village to raise a child” makes absolute sense. Parents may not know exactly what to do when they get home from the hospital, but along the way they may get tips from friends, family members, or even colleagues. 

Sharing stories of successful potty training, comical chaotic moments at the grocery store, and lessons learned from extreme parenting fails, help parents succeed. “Doing life” alongside of others and having a supportive parent “village” is so much better than doing it alone. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you are a parent, chances are you probably did not receive that instruction manual from the hospital on your way out, but The Hawaii Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP) can help you from here and onward! Using strengths based, positive engagement to build a parenting village across the State of Hawaii and  enhancing relationships, we focus on “What’s going right? Positive engagement – every person, every place, every time!

One of H-PEP’s core values is Connection. If you would like to read more about our values and mission, read our previous blog post, 5 Things We Want You To Know: An Open Letter To Educators and Parents of Young Children.  The H-PEP team, or as we call ourselves the Positive Crew (+CREW) believes that connecting with others and having that support is vital to our Positive Engagement Movement.

There are several ways to join the Positive Engagement Movement, and the one I would like to highlight is our Parenting Cohorts.  Our Parent Cohorts give parents an opportunity to meet other parents, learn about parent self care, engage in meaningful conversations, highlight your unique strengths, and gain quick tips to build relationships with your child.

The online version of our Parent Cohort includes:

  • Two really awesome learning videos a week
  • Keiki school readiness using evidence-based homeBase Curriculum that covers the following learning topics:
    • Building Confidence
    • Communication
    • Cooperation
    • Setting Limits
    • Solving Problems
    • Friendship Skills
  • Positive mindset
  • Self care and well-being
  • Early literacy and hands-on book making with the SHELLS, or Storytelling for the Home Enrichment of Language and Literacy Skills, model
  • New friendships!

Help us to grow our H-PEP Ohana, parent village! We would love to have you!

Join The Positive Engagement Movement and sign up for our upcoming parent cohort at The next online Parent Cohort will run from November 18- December 23, 2017.

For more information on other parent and educator activities please visit our website at Feel free to email us if you have any questions at

Photo: Kristy Akana

Kristy Akana, M.A. is a faculty member of the Center on Disability Studies at the College of Education, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, she has a background in Marriage and Family Therapy and enjoys working with parents and keiki across the island.  Her work is focused on building parent/child relationships through positive engagement.  She does this through facilitating Parent Workshops, Parent Cohorts and assists with Professional Development for Early Educators.