Sometimes all it takes is a little love and logic.
And Vicki Evans Williams is just the person to provide it.
A retired counselor in the Mansfield School District (MISD), Williams teaches Love and Logic parenting classes within the district.
Love and Logic as a parenting model is applicable from early childhood through teenagers. The classes she teaches are especially geared to elementary students.
Each stand-alone class covers a large range of topics. These include how to help a child be more successful in school, day-to-day parenting issues, developing responsible behavior, setting limits, family communication, the strong-willed child, and parenting children with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
"In this day and age it is important for parents to be able to connect with their children more than ever because the world these youngsters live in is especially challenging," said Williams, who was with the MISD from 1988-97. "Children need skills in learning how to make good decisions and to own their own problems rather than expecting someone else to solve them."
While the classes are geared toward parents communicating better with their children, the ultimate goal is to help them someday be productive adults.
"Youngsters need to experience the security that can only be found when a parent can set limits without breaking a sweat," Williams said. "Learning how to develop healthy relationships is essential. Preparing children to function successfully as adults in the real world is a necessity."
Williams said the idea for the program in Mansfield came from an interview she had in 2007 with the Parenting Center staff. The program seemed like a, well, "logical" fit in the MISD, Williams said.
"I personally was very impressed with their services when I had utilized these when I was an elementary counselor," she said. "The staff was interested in using me as a volunteer educator teaching Love and Logic parenting classes. I am the only person who teaches Love and Logic who is associated with The Parenting Center.
"Because I was a retired Mansfield counselor, it was a perfect fit for both the Parenting Center and Mansfield."
The partnership has continued for a decade.
The name Love and Logic comes from a couple of thoughts. The "love" portion has to do with giving children the opportunity to grow from their mistakes, while the "logic" portion deals with allowing them to live with the consequences of the choices made.
Williams said Love and Logic as a parenting model is "based on a psychologically sound parenting philosophy." It has been around for 40 years and was founded in 1977 by Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay.
Williams said she does not know of any other school district doing exactly what The Parenting Center and the Mansfield ISD are doing, though similar programs can be found in Texas and throughout the nation.
The classes generally meet 4-5 times a semester. They are held on Friday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m. The time and day were selected to enable parents to come to the programs while dropping their children off at school and on a day arrangements might be made to arrive at work right after the program.
Williams said school administrators will often also attend the classes, as well as counselors.
"Mansfield ISD is a forward-thinking district that takes its role in educating both students and families seriously. Very few districts understand that helping parent more effectively is a key component in helping students succeed in life. Mansfield gets that," she said.
"Observing Mrs. Williams conduct parenting classes in Mansfield ISD has been a true gift," MISD Director of Guidance and Counseling Holly McCanlies said. "The information gained from participating in one of her classes is immediately implementable."
Williams said the most important thing parents can take from these classes is that parenting can be so much less stressful when given sound, user-friendly tools to experiment with, raising the odds that their children will grow into adults who will be just fine long after their parents are no longer around.
The classes are designed for adults, though Williams will not tell someone they can't bring their child. However, she said there is very little, if anything, that would be of interest to children.
Also, the classes are for any parent, not just those experiencing problems. In fact, sometimes it is the family that seems to have no problems that could benefit.
"Interestingly enough, a parent whose child seems to be very easy to parent may lull a parent into failing to give that child opportunities to prepare himself/herself for the challenges he/she will inevitably face," Williams said.
And, at the center of it all are healthy communication skills, Williams said. For everything else to work, this must work.
"One common challenge that parents and children face today when they communicate is that often parents unintentionally model unhealthy communication styles. Children tend to, then, use these same unhealthy techniques beginning in childhood and on into adulthood," she said. "Love and Logic enables parents to experiment with modeling healthy, more effective communication skills, which children begin to use themselves as modeling, and it is the most powerful tool parents possess."
They also help un-blur the line between who is the child and who is the adult in relationships, something that, while it should probably be obvious, isn't always so, Williams said. Nonetheless, making this distinction is a critical part of the program being successful.
"Children seem to have the notion that they are equal to and as powerful as the adults in their world," she said. "Love and Logic goes a long way in making the lines clear between who is the child and who is the adult, which makes the child feel more secure and places the parent more appropriately in charge."
McCanlies said it is common for parents to contact the school to share their personal success stories because they are so happy with the outcome of having gone through the program.
"Mrs. Williams radiates genuine kindness and hope inspiring all who hear her to evaluate their household interactions so that children are optimally positioned to be self-confident, motivated and ready for the unpredicted and unpracticed aspects of life,” she said.