Parents Anonymous® is an American non-profit organization which aims to prevent child abuse by strengthening families and parents through mutual support and education. It was founded by Jolly K., a single mother, and her social worker in 1970 when she wanted to create a more stable environment for her child. Since then, the organization has grown to include parents throughout the United States and classes are offered in various languages.
Unlike other anonymous groups, Parents Anonymous® meetings are led by trained medical professionals who specialize in mental health. These leaders are strong advocates for self-help programs, but they are there to provide guidance and advice to parents who may be facing problems in their families. Parents are also heavily involved with providing support and mutual understanding to one another as they navigate parenting challenges.
The men and women who attend Parents Anonymous® meetings are diverse in nature. Some may have issues with parenting their children because of various life circumstances, while others may simply want to mingle with others who understand their unique parenting challenges. Those who have abused their children in the past in some way are also often encouraged to attend meetings in order to learn healthier ways of dealing with misbehavior and other parental stresses.
Parents are typically invited during each meeting to share any problems they may be having to get advice from other members and the trained counselors. They learn ways of coping with common parenting problems, such as defiance, bad grades, misbehavior and more serious issues like child abuse and drug use. The point of the groups is to give parents a safe place to express concerns and frustrations, learn new coping mechanisms that are healthy, and discover ways of reducing stress to prevent taking things out on their children.
While parents attend Parents Anonymous® meetings, their children and teens are also able to attend their own gatherings. During these groups, kids learn ways of handling emotions and healthy ways of expressing themselves and discussing issues with their parents. Between both types of meetings, parents and their children are able to find new ways of communicating and finding common ground.
Parents Anonymous® meetings are free of charge to parents. They are funded both by grants and through private donations. The groups accept volunteers to work at counselors, group leaders, and other areas such as marketing communications and web design.