A Year in Review – Marriage and Childcare Education
Before I write another word, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas! This is a joyous time of year when we gather to remember the true meaning of Christmas and enjoy time with family and friends. In my family, we are celebrating our daughter’s birthday and our sons’ Master’s degree graduation which recently took place on the same day!
However, there are many who are struggling emotionally this time of year, whether it is the first Christmas without a loved one, grappling with illness or other stressors. Be an encourager to those you see. Many inner struggles are not displayed on the outside, but as the saying goes, “Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet has some kind of need.”
Now, to change subjects, this column is the 3rd in a series of program summaries. This week will focus on one of my favorite topics – marriage education! I’ll also touch on the regional childcare conference which takes place every year.
Marriage education is recognized by the State of Texas as being vitally important to the economy and well-being of families, leading to a safer environment (Baseline Report on Marriage in the Lone Star State, Health and Human Services Commission, 2009). Marriage overwhelmingly benefits individuals, couples, families, and communities throughout the United States (National Marriage Project: The State of the Unions, 2007). The benefits of a healthy marriage seem to span almost all domains of lived experience
Four Twogether in Texas Marriage Education workshops were held in 2015. Engaged couples and married couples took part. The topics covered were:
- Marriage Expectations: What expectations, either spoken or unspoken, does each individual bring to the relationship, and how does that impact the future or current marriage?
- Communication: What is each individual’s communication style – expander or contractor – and how does that play out in the relationship? Neither style is bad if used in the correct context.
- Conflict Resolution: What are the red flags exhibited in each individual? What is the response to conflict? The 10-step conflict resolution approach is reviewed.
- Money Management: How does each individual in the couple handle money? Do they know the basics in money management? The Bean Game serves as a tool for couples to plan a budget.
- Goals & Dreams: What does the couple want their marriage to look like in 10, 20, 30 years down the road? Couples receive a project to complete during the workshop and share their thoughts and dreams.
The workshop includes a combination of teaching styles – lecture, video, group activities, and group interaction.
Twenty-one couples (42 individuals) participated in the 2015 marriage education workshops. Upon completion of the workshop, each couple is given a certificate to save $60 upon applying for a marriage license. This came to a total savings of $1,260. Community partners included:
– Idzi Bitsy Bakery
– Coffee Off the Square
– First Baptist Church Women on Missions Group
– Family & Consumer Sciences Committee
Additionally, I was able to participate in “A Formal Affair”, a bridal and special event fair held in the spring. Twogether in Texas Marriage Education workshops will continue to be conducted in Hopkins County. Dates have been set for 2016, with the first one scheduled forSaturday, January 23, 2016. If you or someone you know plans to get married in 2016, give me a call. In the meantime, make plans to attend “A Formal Affair”, scheduled for Sunday, January 10, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Hopkins County Civic Center. I’ll be there with all the dates for Twogether in Texas for 2016.
Another event which takes place annually in partnership with Paris Junior College and Texas Workforce Commission is the Regional Childcare Conference. This conference allows childcare providers to reach their required face-to-face training hours, as well as provides resources for an effective childcare center. The 2015 workshop provided 6 hours of Inclusive training provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialists, as well as 2 additional hours of concurrent sessions on various topics, including seasonal crafts, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Shaken Baby, transportation, and childhood nutrition.
This conference had 136 participants, each receiving 8 hours of required Continuing Education Credits. In addition, childcare providers have access to a variety of on-line courses provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. These are accepted by the State of Texas Licensing Board. The Better Living for Texans newsletter is provided for daycare centers, schools, individuals, and agencies upon request. The newsletter provided nutrition information, recipes, and family mealtime segments and currently reaches approximately 5,000 households with each edition. As I’ve stated many times, today’s children aretomorrow’s leaders. We must nurture and train them to be responsible, dependable, and of good character.
Geese flying to in formation ‘honk’ to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed. We need to make sure our ‘honking’ is encouraging. Individual empowerment results from quality ‘honking.’ Merry Christmas!
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone
903-439-4909 – Fax