Should parents facilitate an Our Whole Lives class that includes their children?
If parents successfully complete Our Whole Lives (OWL) training, it is a possibility. But the appropriateness of a parent in this role depends on a number of factors. The most important factor is the comfort level of the child. While most children, especially adolescents, would be uncomfortable discussing sex with a parent in the room, there are some children who would feel more comfortable. A related factor is the parent’s ability to be non-judgmental about their child’s opinions, questions, and behavior in class. You might consider how frequently that Our Whole Lives program is run in the congregation (i.e., could the parent teach it next year? Or the child take it the following year?). If a parent does agree to facilitate their own child’s Our Whole Lives class, here are a few things to remember:
- Have at least one non-parent facilitator. This way the child always has a “neutral” trusted adult to go to with their questions. When the class divides into small groups, try to have the non-parent facilitate that child’s small group.
- Leave what was said in class. It is important that a parent facilitator not “grill” their child about something the child said in class. Let the child bring up a subject. If a parent wants to open a conversation about class, they can ask a very generic question such as, “Is there anything from Our Whole Lives class that you want to talk about?”
Be aware that the parent facilitator will be seen as a parent by the other children in the group. They may be aware that this parent is a good friend of their own parents, and may wonder if the parent facilitator will keep confidentiality. A parent facilitator should be very clear that they will not break confidentiality with other parents.
- A year is a long time for a child or adolescent. Especially in adolescence, the relationship between a parent and child can change considerably during a year-long OWL program. Be prepared with a ‘back-up plan’ in case the situation isn’t working out.