New program aims to help families communicate

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Do you ever have trouble figuring out how to talk to your kids? Or does it sometimes seem that your offspring are speaking another language, when they speak at all? Does the volume of your conversations sometimes rise beyond the level of talking and into the range of yelling? Well, you’re not alone. Truth is, even loving families can sometimes encounter these problems, and a new program coming to Darlington County can help improve communications for parents and kids alike.

The cost-free Strengthening Families Program is for parents with children ages 6 – 11 and participants will engage in a series of 14 weekly meetings that include a sit-down family dinner, instructive learning sessions with trained facilitators, and interactive sessions where adults and kids share and practice their improved communication skills.

Conducted by Lee County First Steps, Darlington County First Steps, Darlington County School District, and sponsored by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the program has just wrapped up two successful cycles in Lee County. After completing the Strengthening Families Program, participants not only improved their ability to deal with and talk to each other, but the parents were so empowered by their new coping and problem solving tools that many of those who were unemployed are now back in the work force.

The new cycles will take place at the Darlington County Intervention School, 100 Magnolia Street in Darlington each Monday at 6 p.m. Although the first cycle is fully enrolled, applications are being accepted for cycle two. Enrollment is limited to 20 families per session and everyone with children in the 6 to 11 age range can apply, irrespective of income. Grandparents or legal guardians are eligible.

Program enrollees will learn techniques to help them listen more and yell less, prevent behavior problems, improve relationships with their kids and each other, and better manage stress. Each session includes free dinner (usually a homestyle meal, not an eat-and-dash fast food meal), free gifts and raffle prizes, free childcare and activities for non-participating kids, and free transportation as needed.

Families that complete the program receive a certificate and can participate in a graduation ceremony.

To learn more about the Strengthening Families Program, call the Lee county First Steps office at (803) 484-5110 or email

Author: Duane Childers

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