The nature of nurture

Nurturing Parenting Program winds down this week with graduation

With a 3-month-old son, Tony Santistevan is at the beginning of his parenting journey.

But he thinks the help he got from the Nurturing Parenting Program will help him along his way.

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The class, which ran for three hours a week for 16 weeks, concludes Tuesday with a barbecue and graduation.

The class calls parents to bring children birth to age 5 to the class for combined and separate activities.

"I think a lot of people like it because it's family time together that they get spend together," Santistevan said.

Sandy Beran, Positive Change advocate for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, and Lynae Ellgen, counselor for Moffat County School District's Early Childhood Center, facilitate the class, which is in its second year.

Last year, eight families graduated from the program. On Tuesday, 22 adults from 17 families will graduate, an increase Beran is happy to see.

"Everyone seemed to be very open, and the whole group tried to work together to problem solve and come up with solutions that were nurturing for different family situations that were brought up in our discussions," Beran said. "The whole group seemed really vested in helping each other."

Santistevan the advice he received from other parents -- ones he said he plans to remain friends with -- was the most valuable portion of the class. He also praised the program's facilitators.

"They're very patient and very outgoing on making sure everybody understands," Santistevan said. "They don't just pay attention to a particular group of people either. They make sure everybody's involved."

The Nurturing Parenting Program embraces five constructs:

  • Learning appropriate developmental expectations,
  • Practicing being empathetic, "to learn to put yourself in someone else's shoes,"
  • Learning different tools for behavior management,
  • Increasing self awareness for parents "because when you're giving it all out, you need to be able to replenish," and
  • Encouraging children's independence.

Beran said the message of the Nurturing Parenting Program is one that's close to her heart. While training to be a Christian counselor, she learned about many of the principles taught in the program.

"The age of 1 to 5 is so critical for children to be fed love," Beran said. "By seeing it, hearing it and feeling it through their parents makes the foundation for the rest of their life."

Plus, Beran was a teacher and caseworker at Loveland Daycare Center, which she described as a nurturing place.

"Some of these principles were a natural fit for me," Beran said.

She said she embraces the Nurturing Parenting Program because few other classes teach parents to evaluate their techniques and learn ones that encourage strong traits in children.

"I believe the Nurturing Parenting program is so important because so often we learn what we have lived, and there's really no course on being nurturing," Beran said. "Usually we just carry on the traditions that have been passed on.

"It gives us a chance to examine what our attitudes are and why we have those attitudes."

Beran said she plans to host the class again next year with continued grant money from the Colorado Children's Trust Fund.

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