katie oatsvall



No matter what your family looks like, one thing that binds us is that being a parent is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

That’s because we all love our children dearly, but even under the best of circumstances being a parent means that at all times you wear a piece of your heart on your sleeve and doubt your decisions, then wonder how in the world you were ever equipped to raise another human being.

In the midst of all your doubts, ask yourself: What makes my family strong? The answer will be different for most, but for all of us, incorporating proven science into our homes and community approach is a benefit. It may sound overwhelming, but many of Kenosha’s finest youth serving organizations, schools and medical providers have begun the Five Protective Factors approach, and you can, too.

1 PARENTAL RESILIENCE — Managing stress and functioning well when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma. The basic blocks to build on are communication skills, coping strategies, belief system and hope. Ask yourself, how are you able to meet your children’s needs when you are dealing with your own stress?

2 KNOWLEDGE OF PARENTING AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT — Understanding child development and parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development. What are some of the things you find hard about being a parent? We can start here.

3 SOCIAL CONNECTIONS — Positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support. When things get tough, who can you call for advice or just to talk?

4 CONCRETE SUPPORT IN TIMES OF NEED — Access to concrete support and services that address a family’s needs and help minimize stress caused by challenges.

5 SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE OF CHILDREN — Family and child interactions that help children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions and establish and maintain relationships. When you spend time with your child, what do you like to do together?

Keep asking yourself questions. Parents aren’t given a manual, but in this day and age it seems we have all been given smart phones and access to Wi-Fi, so on behalf of the young people in your life, I encourage you to continue learning more about the Five Protective Factors approach.

Organizations like Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services also offer parenting classes. It’s a great way to develop deeper knowledge of parenting and develop additional social connections for concrete support in times of need. The next scheduled class begins July 11. It is a 10-week class providing 15 hours of instruction for $25.

Scholarships are available. Parents can register at KAFASI, 7730 Sheridan Road, or online at www.kafasi.org. The website also includes other parenting support options.

Katie Oatsvall is the executive director of Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services Inc.