Despite the sweltering summer evening, Deandre Kilgore wears a sweatshirt he occasionally zips up with the hood draped over his head.
The teen is open when he discusses how his family life has improved since his parents, Shaunte Paul and Alonzo Oliver, enrolled in the Pailalen Parent Training classes offered at Godwin Heights North Elementary.
“They are more interactive with me,” said Deandre, who will be a freshman at Union High School next month. “They talk more to us and ask how we’re doing after the day is through. That makes me feel better.”
Deandre’s words are like balm to his mother, Shaunte Paul Oliver.
“We’ve learned how to better engage our children, showing them in a better way what our families values are,” she said. “We needed help to do that, and to get ourselves out of our comfort zone. I’ve learned it’s OK to get help, and accept help. I’m excited to be around different cultures (Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and Native American) to learn different ways of life.”
Giving Peace More Than a Chance
“Pailalen” (pronounced Pie-lah-len) is a word from an indigenous language of South America that means “to be in peace,” an apt description of the 13-week violence-prevention parent training class’s intent.
Its big-picture goal is to give parents the skills they need to usher peace into their lives and their families, and in turn bring peace to their communities.
- Learning positive discipline methods
- Improving communication with children
- Fostering cultural pride
- Getting to know other parents and appreciating cultural differences
- Techniques to prevent drug use and gang involvement, and ways to nurture a secure environment for children
Flint-based Wellspring Lutheran Services provides the Pailalen Parent Training classes held at North Godwin, and the district pays for the materials used, said Sarah Schantz, community school coordinator for North Godwin. Parents also learn about available, often reduced cost community resources.
Many of the parents and guardians who enroll in the program are not content with some traditional parenting methods.
“Parents are curious how things are handled these days, so they want to learn new approaches,” said Pailalen co-facilitator Yolanda Macias. “They learn how to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive.”
Amber Worden said she no longer resorts to spanking her sons, Jace and Owen, when they need correcting.
“I use a time-out chair and an incentive chart where they get stickers that are used for points they can use to get a prize,” said Worden, of Kentwood.
“After awhile, the values in them transfer to the point where one day they do the good behavior not because of the reward.”
Sometimes peace in the family means forgoing personal preferences to ease martial friction, said Alonzo Oliver, Shaunte Paul’s husband. Oliver said he’s decided to give up watching scary movies with her because they creep her out too much.
His changed movie-watching habits are part of a “building block” that includes expressing his feelings to his wife, showing her empathy, stating the consequences of his decision and moving to the next step.
“When you don’t watch movies with me I feel like you don’t want to spend time with me,” Oliver said, modeling the conversational lesson. “I would like us to select an appropriate movie so we can spend time together.”
Wellspring’s Pailalen Training