One month ago, Judge Barbara Walthers ordered FLDS parents to go to parenting classes as a condition of regaining custody of their children. The classes will be begin in about ten days and will be "much like those delivered to other clients," according to a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) spokeswoman, Marleigh Meisner. I wonder what the usual format for teaching parenting is in Texas? Having conducted communication trainings for many parents and their children, I've learned that theory doesn't hold a candle to experience, that the hands-on method works a lot better than the didactic approach, and only when you combine the two, do you have a winner.

The FLDS community, emphasizing obedience above all other virtues, is strict, disciplined, and patriarchal. One reason cognitive learning alone won't make a big dent in FLDS practices has to do with the fundamentalist need to be right, combined with members' strong tendency to take literally what has been written in Scripture and spoken by their so-called prophet. For instance, a lesson warning about the evils of child abuse can quickly be countered with "spare the rod and spoil the child." The transactional paradigm that works so well for parents and children who desperately need to discover egalitarian communication will be rejected as disrespectful by polygamy elders. In other words, parent-to-child communication with a "superior to inferior" attitude will continue to raise hackles or raze spirits unless the FLDS people actually find a successful way of talking. The whole idea of parents and children communicating on an adult-to-adult wavelength that promotes mutual respect will probably never happen in this hierarchical, patriarchal and repressive society.

What do you think the Texas DFPS should do to insure that its obligatory parenting classes really make a difference in the FLDS community?

What Do You Think?