by Sophie Feintuch
On a chilly Thursday afternoon in late November 2017, Sandra Maignant, a technical advisor for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), visited a parenting class in the Nargazilia displacement camp in north-west Iraq. The tent where the class was being held was unheated and had flooded, causing Maignant to shiver as she watched the two-hour session. It struck her that none of the 18 Iraqi men attending even wore socks to protect against the damp cold. Yet when the class ended, all of the fathers stayed on to extol the programme to Maignant. Unable to offer the childhoods they had experienced, these parents were desperate for ways to protect their kids from the trauma of war and displacement.
It’s well known that parenting programmes can reduce violence against children and increase positive development. Parents who participate learn to listen to their children, establish routines and use positive discipline techniques such as ‘time out’. Such programmes have mostly taken place in stable, wealthy countries. Only recently have humanitarian organisations begun adapting parenting programmes for caregivers in crisis areas such as the fathers in Nargazilia – who arguably need it the most.
Read more on the ODI - Humanitarian Practice Network site.