Her job providing day care for toddlers couldn't steel Daphna Glauser against the difficulty of disciplining her own daughters.
"When you have your own children, it's always different — no matter how much you think you know," says the 47-year-old mother of two.
Exhausted by 7-year-old Rebecca's restless nights and 4-year-old Sara's tantrums, Glauser and her husband, 56-year-old David Glauser, consulted local child therapists and counselors who, in turn, recommended an Ashland parent empowerment program. The four-week course gave the Glausers a "better understanding into the child's world," as well as their own.
"We call it emotional coaching," Daphna Glauser says. "The main thing ... is the emotions the parents, themselves, have to deal with."
More than a year later, Glauser is taking the program's reins from its creator, Michelle Jensen, who founded Ashland's Parent Resource Center in 2001 as a venue for her workshops and private counseling. Delivered to hundreds of local families, "Parent Power" debuts in May at Medford's Providence BirthPlace.
"It belongs in a birthing program," says Jensen, adding that she transferred "Parent Power" to focus on her counseling practice.
Evolving over the past nine years from a handbook for first-time moms to an overarching seminar on raising children of all ages, "Parent Power" is the product of Jensen's masters thesis, researched while her son, Jeffrey, was still in grade school.
"He kind of led me to this journey," says the 56-year-old Ashland resident. "These little people are so amazing."
Jensen's "amazing kid" inspired acquaintance Sarah Morse, 26, to take "Parent Power" when her son, Austin, was a toddler. A first-time mom, Morse says she didn't have specific problems parenting but wanted to get the jump on effective discipline before any issues arose. Citing a technique dubbed "one, two, three, magic," Morse says she rarely has to put Austin, now 6, in timeout.
"It was sweet and simple," she says. "It worked just as well then as it does now."
Relying on two warnings, counted out loud, the method allows children to pick their own spot for timeout and gives advance notice of the consequence for continuing behavior past their second warning. Parents don't argue, and they don't overexplain the situation because kids already know they've misbehaved, Morse says.
Glauser also considers the system a breakthrough. Before "Parent Power," she and her husband implemented timeouts, but they weren't sure how long the punishment should last or how to implement it without a fuss.
"It sounds like a very simple thing," Glauser says. "But, for us, it was a huge thing."
Conceding that Jensen's strategies are nothing that "hasn't been discovered before," Glauser nevertheless touts the practicality of information gleaned from child-psychology experts and organized into a workbook format. In addition to discipline, topics are: child development, prevention of problems, new parent fantasies and expectations, parenting styles, family dynamics, relationship issues, beliefs and values and healthy lifestyles.
The last in that list is more important than many parents believe, Jensen says.
"Whatever you've done in your lifestyle, you're the example," she says. "Words don't matter. It's all about actions speak louder than words."
For example, parents can't advocate a healthful diet if they eat poorly, Jensen says. Nor can they prohibit kids' use of drugs, tobacco or alcohol while breaking their own ban. Particularly problematic, one parent can't expect a certain behavior of children while the second parent does the opposite, she says.
Having a less obvious impact on health, but an important point in Jensen's discourse, is the modern-day exposure to technology. Minimizing use of electronic devices applies to parents, not just kids. Depression in both generations often stems from social isolation and detachment from nature, Jensen says.
"You have to be very aware of your lifestyle," Jensen says. "We have to take responsibility, as parents, for the things we aren't doing right."
All that's wrong in the world, Jensen says, can be linked in some way to poor parenting. That conclusion gave rise to her thesis and "Parent Power," which draws some credibility on the topic of parents' fantasies and expectations from Jensen's own experience.
"I had no idea what was really gonna happen," says Jensen, who became a mother at age 37. "The fantasies run deep."
Pregnancy, she says, tends to be a phase of positive associations rather than challenges. After the accomplishment of giving birth fades within a few weeks, women can experience postpartum depression, Jensen says.
Its new home at Providence BirthPlace will certainly bring "Parent Power" to more expectant and new parents, Jensen says. But it's never too late to tap the power — and wisdom — of so many parents who have gone before.
"Sometimes we just need the reassurance that we are doing the right thing," Glauser says.
"I believe that it's the most sacred thing we can do to raise children," she adds. "To me, it's a calling."