We parents and grandparents need all the help we can get in connecting with our children and grandchildren. I’ve recently discovered a wonderful non-profit organization in Palo Alto, California called Hand in Hand, whose primary focus is nurturing the parent-child connection. Their mission is: to foster healthy parent-child relationships that will last a lifetime. Our GaGa Sisterhood mission completely aligns: to inspire grandmothers to continue growing and evolving so we can build lifelong meaningful relationships with our children and grandchildren.
Hand in Hand appreciates the wisdom and caring of grandmothers and wants to welcome more grandmothers into the work they do to support parents. They’re converting their most popular class, Building Emotional Understanding, into a new class, The Grandparent Advantage, specifically for grandparents. They’ve invited members of the GaGa Sisterhood to participate in a focus group to find out what would be helpful, useful, and beneficial to our relationship with our grandchildren and their parents.
As a result of this new connection, I attended their Join Hands for Families Luncheon and heard firsthand how Hand in Hand has helped thousands of families over the years. One heartfelt testimonial from a father and daughter touched me deeply. Yoalie Lamarque, who is now a sophomore at the University of California at Santa Cruz, was four years old when her father, Martin, sought help for his parenting skills. Martin spoke about the hardships he experienced growing up in the barrio with a mother who did not provide a good role model for parenting. In fact, he confessed, he did not want to become a parent himself because of the emotional suffering he experienced as a child.
When he eventually became a father, he knew he had to seek help. Through a friend, he enrolled in Hand in Hand’s Building Emotional Understanding, a course that teaches parents to understand their children’s emotions, to use simple listening tools, to set limits, and to learn strategies for building their children’s confidence.
As a result of his positive experience, Martin and his daughter developed trust and respect for each other that has grown over the years. In addition, Martin went on to become one of the many trainers for Hand in Hand and now teaches classes to parents in Spanish, his native language. I was deeply moved by Martin’s speech because he chose to change a negative cycle that has been part of his family for generations. Now he is committed to helping other families break that same cycle.
For parents and grandparents who don’t live locally there are several services available for getting help: free monthly teleseminars, one-on-one phone consultations, an online discussion group with over 400 participants who share their day-to-day struggles and successes, and new parent podcasts in English and Spanish.
Hand in Hand founder Patty Wipfler, who is a mother and grandmother, began with a simple goal in 1989: to offer support groups for parents. Now her organization helps parents and professionals around the world. Over 6,500 parents and professionals received 14,000 program hours of training, her parenting booklets have been translated into 11 different languages, 40,000 were sold in China, and 14,000 visitors come to Hand in Hand’s website every month.
This is the powerful difference one grandmother can make!