Families First

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Families First, Second and Third

Sometimes yoFamilies First Gala 2011 Capability Mom u just know something is going to be good, maybe a friend has recommended it or you can tell when you walk in to a place and you just know. That is how it is for me and anything that Families First does. I know that is a big, bold statement but it is true. Their speakers are always top-notch, their instructors incredible at conveying the (always well-thought out) topic and engaging the group. I wrote about the Spring event last year in this post and this year was just as wonderful.

LaVerne Stephens, Parent Educator at Families First, was again the first speaker (wonderfully enthusiastic, funny and knowledgeable).  She did a fantastic job of engaging the audience and introducing us to the Families First video. She had us laughing and agreeing with her at each turn as we all made connections to her presentation. She is truly a gifted speaker.

Ned Hallowell is one of those charming, charismatic people that you love to listen to – I have heard him speak at a school parenting program so I knew I was in for a treat, I also get his newsletter on Crazy Busy (how-not-to be).  One of the best things I heard him say was that having an ADD or ADHD brain is like having a Ferrari for a brain, it is a great brain…it just came with bicycle brakes.  I really like how this describes – especially to a child – that there is not only nothing wrong with their brain, it is super cool and fast, it just needs a stronger stopping mechanism.

Families First honored Joannie Jaxtimer and Michael Barry with the 2011 Friends of the Family Award for their impact on and devotion to families in the Boston community. A wonderful young couple shared their experience with Families First parenting workshops and then the floor was opened for donations in an auction setting. It was engaging and fun to watch the auctioneer, Kathy Kingston, connect with the crowd and encourage them to donate. It was such a lovely event!

The Families First website is a great resource in itself – there is even a page on Parenting Tips by Age and Topic. Pick Self-Esteem and Elementary School and you will get age-appropriate tips. Here is a sample from the site:

Language That Enhances Self-Esteem

  1. Acknowledge feelings: “You don’t feel like your teacher likes you.”
  2. Offer affection: Hugs, kisses, cuddling.
  3. Avoid comparisons: “Yes, your brother can run fast but you have talents also. Look how hard you can kick a soccer ball.”
  4. Express gratitude: “Thank you for coming when I called.”
  5. Show confidence: “That’s a tough problem, but I think you can do it.”
  6. Focus on the positive: “It’s hard to pour milk. You almost had it in the glass.”
  7. Express anger respectfully: “When you use my scissors and don’t put them back, I feel angry because I don’t have it when I need it.”
  8. Express disapproval without attacking character: “Calling other people names hurts feelings. That isn’t allowed.”
  9. Praise effort: “It looks like you worked hard on that puzzle.”
  10. Offer specific praise: “You tied your shoelaces nice and tight – and with double knots!”

©2011 Families First Parenting Programs. All Rights Reserved.
Phone: 617.868.7687 / Fax: 617.354.2902 / web@families-first.org

Families First is a great organization that provides parenting courses and...”builds positive relationships between parents and their children by educating both families and the professionals who serve them through inspiring, hands-on workshops. Our skilled workshop leaders stand beside parents and caregivers to lead them through the crucible of child rearing by transforming their experiences, doubts, and fears into the knowledge and confidence they need to build positive discipline, communication, and self-esteem in families. Our training for professionals enhances their ability to better support and engage families. We help communities thrive by strengthening families first.”


These are organizations that I really like and work with because friends are involved and made me aware of the great work that they are doing. Check them out.

A Step Up

Children’s Trust Fund

Families First

Friends of the Newton Free Library

Families First : Parenting in the Digital Age – A fundraising event that inspired, entertained and educated…then over to The Local for a bite to eat.

Last week (yes, the same day I resisted chocolates from Fancy Nancy – only to succumb another day), I went to a fundraiser for Families First , a great organization that offers parenting workshops in the Greater Boston area.  It was held at the Boston College Club in downtown Boston (on the 36th floor of what I call the pregnant building or, really, the Bank of America building). Great views, a  nice glass of white wine, some killer appetizers and a great group of people…now we were all in the mood for…more wine?  Nope, a parenting talk. Fortunately, and as is customary for Families First, we were in for a treat…not just a parenting talk but a truly inspiring parenting talk.

The first speaker was La Verne Saunders, a wonderfully enthusiastic, funny and knowledgeable parent educator from Families First.  She did a fantastic job of engaging the audience (of mostly tired parents) and showing how a parenting class would be run. We laughed, nodded and smiled at each other as we all made connections to her presentation of how the principles and values in our lives affect our parenting decisions and how sometimes we ignore them and why.

Next was the keynote speaker, John Palfrey of Harvard University, who immediately charmed the audience by sharing that he would not take up much time as he had a date with his son at the Red Sox game and joking that La Verne was a tough act to follow – she is – and he was as compelling.  He has co-written, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives and here is a link to his site Digital Natives at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He spoke about children and their digital experience and presented a short film (by a student) that showed it clearly and wonderfully. Here is the video.  It is amazing to visualize your – or your child’s – tracks in the digital age. Digital Dossier from Digital Natives.

I have several friends who have long been involved with Families First and have been lucky enough to see first hand (at workshops and other events like this) what Families First can do.  I have always been impressed by the program offerings, the parent educators and the people involved and this night was no exception.

After the event, a group of us met up at The Local, a great neighborhood spot that is truly the neighborhood’s favorite spot, a great space with friendly staff and wonderful food.  Home to amazing burgers, fries (and I do know my burgers and fries) and phenomenal flatbread pizzas and some lobster mac and cheese dish that I want to try.  Definitely not your standard fare. The chef is Brian Counihan (he is also the chef at Isabella’s in Dedham – more amazing food!)  We watched the finish of the Red Sox game, chatted with the super friendly owners… it was the perfect end to a lovely evening.

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