Parents talk to their kids about everything – Why is the sky blue? Why do we wash our hands before we eat? Why should I be nice to my sister? Every day kids ask, and parents respond. And often it’s the parents job to talk about topics proactively – everything from learning letters and math concepts to safety to getting along at school and making friends.
Some questions and conversations are challenging to bring up and discuss. PEPS has introduced a series of in-person events and workshops and Program Director Kintea Bryant reflects on how this programming is impacting parents in the community.
WHY DOES PEPS HOST COMMUNITY EVENTS?
KB: Parents want to know how to talk to their children about current things that matter, the things that parents see as important to address.
Our community events give parents both the opportunity to connect with one another and can provide the tools to proactively talk with their children. These events give parents an opportunity to ask questions from experts in these topic areas, and get answers that will help prepare them to be more confident in discussing and answering children’s questions.
“It was engaging, informative and got me thinking and motivated.”
Like our PEPS groups, having face-to-face interactions with other parents with similar questions and concerns allows parents to feel supported and know that they may not be the only one grappling with a particular issue or question. PEPS often highlights articles on some of these topics, but our events give parents the opportunity to ask questions of local experts and get first-hand feedback. Our events are open to the public and are low-cost, with financial assistance available for families who request it.
WHAT TOPICS HAS PEPS HOSTED?
KB: Over the last year, PEPS evening events have included topics on how to talk to kids about race and diversity/inclusion, answering questions and talking with kids about their bodies and sexuality, and what it means to be a dad in today’s world.
We hosted a Dad’s event in Mountlake Terrace, with guest speaker Fred Capestany. Fred engaged a room full of dads on the topic of what it means to be a ‘real’ man, and how that translates into their role as fathers. This conversation was rich with sharing and questions about how American culture socializes boys and men, and how dads can often be challenged by this socialization and how it impacts their roles as a dad.
We co-hosted our first ever event held in Bellevue with one of our PEPS Network Partners, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, with guest speaker Amy Lang, owner of Birds + Bees + Kids. Amy led a discussion with parents about how to be prepared when their children begin to ask questions about their bodies and where babies come from. The parents in attendance had a lot of questions around what age to begin having these conversations and how much information to give to a child when answering their questions. Amy stressed the importance of having these conversations with their children earlier on and in open, safe, and honest environment, which communicates that their bodies belong to them.
As PEPS shifts towards creating more space for work around racial equity within the community, working with organizations such as Kids and Race, allows PEPS to provide the community tools to help parents increase their family’s knowledge around racial bias and take steps to influence their children’s experience in the broader community.
Our March event featured Jasen Frelot of Kids and Race. His work with PEPS focus on how white parents can build a culture within their families that counteract negative biases that children develop over time due to lack of exposure to different cultures and ethnic groups. Jasen shared that simple things, such as incorporating books with characters who represent different cultural/ethnic backgrounds, seeking out experiences and interactions with children and adults who look different from their families and having discussions around difference and inclusion can help children become more inclusive and aware.
We are continuing and expanding on this conversation in our upcoming event with Debbie LeeKeenan, who will provide families and educators with a framework to incorporate an anti-bias lens when answering questions that come up from children around differences and their social identity development. This event will be hosted in partnership with Amara, another PEPS Network Partner.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE MISSION OF PEPS?
KB: At PEPS, it’s our mission to support parents, and we do that with peer-support groups, resources, and information. Having these types of events means that we can go deeper on a topic and also bring together parents who may have older children, who participated in a PEPS group years ago. We also want to engage parents in the community who did not participate in a PEPS group, giving the broader community the opportunity to engage and connect with parents. We are working to make these events much more widely available and have a focus on a specific development or parenting topic.
WHAT ARE PARENTS SAYING?
We get helpful and insightful feedback from parents who attend these events. Here is just a sample of some of the feedback we’ve received.
“Amy made the topic approachable and I left feeling better prepared to tackle this topic with my kids.”
“Gave me confidence to talk to my kids about sex.”
“Clear, concise, easy to digest & fun. All very relevant.”
“This was a fantastic event! I love that PEPS hosted space for dads to be able to question gender norms and shed some of the baggage of male supremacy that our society indoctrinates in us.”
“Speaker was engaging, location had good food and beers, the environment and event content was conducive for topical conversation.”
“Honesty about addressing race & the reality of the division in Seattle.”
“[Jason] was very engaging and made the info (which can feel challenging) accessible.”
About the Author
Kintea Bryant is the Program Director at PEPS. She began her career as an environmental educator at the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium. She worked at Seattle Audubon, providing leadership in education for children, youth, and adults. Kintea holds a BA in EPO Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder and an M.Ed. in Informal Curriculum and Instruction from Seattle University. For questions about PEPS Community Events, programming or curriculum, contact Kintea at kinteab [at] peps [dot] org.