The Nurturing Parenting Programs are trauma-informed family-based prevention and intervention programs designed to develop nurturing parenting practices in order to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect. The program is competency-based. Each group- and home-based session has stated competencies intended to measure when parents have acquired a new understanding and demonstrate new skills that represent nurturing parenting strategies and practices. The underlying theoretical assumptions of the Nurturing Parenting Programs are the following:
- Human behavior is multidimensional. The positive and negative impacts of life’s past events shape our cognitive, emotional, and neurological responses to current events.
- Positive and negative life events carry both cognitive and affective cellular memories. Over time, repeated events create neural pathways. These neural pathways strongly influence behavior.
- Nurturing Parenting instruction is based on proven psycho-educational and cognitive-behavioral approaches to learning. In these approaches, awareness, understanding, and acceptance are emphasized and old patterns of thought and behavior are replaced with newer, healthier ones.
- Nurturing Parenting embraces the theory of re-parenting. In the practice of re-parenting, new patterns of behavior replace older, destructive ones over time. Long-term dysfunctional patterns of behavior require long-term interventions that allow new patterns of thought and behavior to incubate and take hold.
- Nurturing oneself as a man or a woman is paramount to becoming a nurturing father or mother. Parents who take care of themselves are better suited to take care of another person.
- Parenting is a role with defined responsibilities that promote the growth and development of parents’ sons and daughters into healthy and caring children. When parenting is perceived as a 24/7 obligation, parents lose sight of their own needs as men and women and begin to resent the basic needs of their children. Men and women who make the commitment to regularly get their own needs met are better able to meet the needs of their children.
- Parenting beliefs are learned early in life from the experiences a child has during the process of growing up. Beliefs are formulated from four factors: perceptions of events throughout childhood; knowledge and understanding of these events; the emotional impact the events have in developing a perception of reality; and the perceived value of these events by family members and close friends.
- For parents to change longstanding maladaptive beliefs regarding parenting—and consequently their parenting behaviors—they must receive long-term, family-based education provided in competency-based lessons offered in a sequential manner.