Rediscovering parenting joys: two mothers explore new parenting skills in Family Clubs

UNICEF Egypt and the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) have established family clubs within Primary Healthcare Units (PHUs) to offer child protection activities and services

Dalia Younis
UNICEF Egypt and the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) have established family clubs within Primary Healthcare Units (PHUs) to offer child protection activities and services
UNICEF/Egypt 2018/Dalia Younis
21 May 2018

Cairo, Egypt – “I remember it was a day when I badly hit my child, I felt horrible afterwards”, said Om Mariam, a mother from Aswan, about the day she decided to change the way she’s dealing with her child.

“I opened up to Om Youssef, my friend, and she told me she heard of a newly opened Family Club in Maktab Sehha Awal Primary Healthcare Unit (PHU) at which they provide support and counselling for parents. I didn’t know what a Family Club was but I was desperate to seek help”.

The parenting lifebuoy  

When the two mothers arrived at  Maktab Sehha Awal PHU’s family club, they were fascinated by the place. Although the space was small, its walls were covered with children paintings, educational messages in colorful designs, and handmade decorations.

They met with Basma and Saleh, the Family Club’s facilitators, who explained that the place doesn’t only offer recreational actives for children, but they offer parenting counseling and activities for parents as well.

Om Mariam opened up with Basma about her parenting challenges,, and the Basma was able to give her some basic advice and invited her to come to the positive parenting sessions offered regularly at the club to raise awareness on positive parenting and alternative non-violent ways to discipline children.

‘Protect me’ day

Basma explained that one of the most interesting suggestions she received on the issue of violent discipline came from children themselves. She said: “Some of the children told me that the concepts they learn here about respect, tolerance and listening were not always reflected at their houses. They suggested we organize a day where they invite their parents to come and learn about the same concepts and how they should deal with their children”.

Basma thought that would be a great idea to promote for the parental counselling services of the club. She and Saleh involved the children in organizing the day to raise their sense of ownership of the place and teach them more skills in an indirect way.

Saleh elaborates: “We held different types of activities on this day - games, discussions, artwork and many other activities that helped to create special bonds between parents and their children. The results were amazing and everyone spent an unforgettable day”.

New bonds with children

Om Mariam now comes regularly for the parenting sessions. She is very grateful for the support she gets from the facilitators and explains: “They give me creative and practical tips on dealing with my children. I consult them on dealing with the children’s tough questions and how to negotiate with them on something they don’t want to commit to”.

Om Youssef, on the other hand, was delighted to discover some hidden talents of her little son. “I never knew before that my son was a talented writer” she said, “After he was enrolled in the club, he had the chance to explore different hobbies for the first time such as painting and writing. The facilitators were very supportive and they encouraged him to focus on writing as his greatest skill. They put his writing on the walls of the place with pride”.

The mothers showed UNICEF a collection of the pieces created by their children during the sessions including bracelets, puppets and bags with the facilitators’ names written on them as a gift of love from the children.

Family clubs within the PHUs

UNICEF Egypt and the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) have established family clubs within Primary Healthcare Units (PHUs) to offer child protection activities and services (particularly those that prevent and respond to violence) linked to the provision of mainstream health services.

The family clubs are also linked with Child Protection Committees (CPCs) at the district and governorate level, allowing for comprehensive case management.

The Positive Parenting Program implemented through these clubs supports parents in growing their parenting capacity to improve familial relationships, relieve the stress associated with parenting, and develop strategies for disciplining their children in positive ways.