| 22 Aug 2023

Parenting tool developed in South Canterbury

A tool to help parents guide their teens through the minefield of living in the 21st century has been specifically adapted for South Canterbury use.

The Whānau Book covers practical advice on parent– teen relationships, communication, role modelling, boundaries, nutrition and aiding teenagers and young people to navigate such issues as social media, addiction, the pandemic, alcohol and drugs.

Extending and expanding the book to create a local version has been a passion for Te Whatu Ora South Canterbury  
Suicide Prevention Co-ordinator Dr Annette Beautrais, over the last 12 months. She came across the book a number of years ago and saw its potential to keep teenagers and young people safer. It was originally developed by Te Whatu Ora Northland health promotion advisor Dave Hookway.

For the new edition Timaru Photographer Maania Tealei was commissioned to provide locally relatable photos for illustration.

“Life has become more complicated during the last two decades and rapid social changes have impacted young people,” Dr Beautrais said.

She said one of the major problems parents faced was keeping their teens away from alcohol and drugs for as long as they possibly could.

“The Whānau Book has a lot of information and tips about alcohol and drugs, but it also has useful tips about other teen issues – the importance of keeping kids in education for as long as possible to give them options in life, how to manage teen parties, social media, young drivers, etc.

Social media has had a huge influence on young people, Dr Beautrais said.

“While there are good aspects of social media, it also has impacted a lot of young people badly – we know young people can become addicted to social media, to gaming, and to cell phones, and these addictions affect their exercise, physical activity, friendships and social connections.

“In addition, young people are one of the groups impacted negatively by the pandemic,” she said.

“For all these reasons it is very important that we do everything we can to protect young people’s mental wellbeing,“ she said.  
Arowhenua Whānau Services has fully funded  the project through a successful application to the 2022 Community Fund for Māori Suicide Prevention.

Arowhenua Whānau Services Kaiwhakahaere/manager Maria Parish said the South Canterbury version of the book used local terminology to appeal to local people and was a valuable manual for parenting teenagers and young people.
She said parenting was the hardest job in the world and she hoped the book would help lighten that load a little.

“We hope every parent will find it useful and if they don’t need it they can pass it on to others that will,” Mrs Parish said.
The South Canterbury edition of Whānau Book will be printed with in the next few weeks and will be distributed freely to schools, NGO’s, sports clubs, and appropriate mental health services. It is believed South Canterbury is the only area to have localised it so far.

Copies will also be available from Arowhenua Whānau Services in King Street, Temuka.

Whanau book

Pictured above: Te Whatu Ora South Canterbury Suicide Prevention Co-ordinator Dr Annette Beautrais (left) and Arowhenua Whānau Services Kaiwhakahaere/manager Maria Parish with the South Canterbury version of the Whānau Book

young people

Pictured above: Young people from South Canterbury are depicted on the cover and throughout the pages of the adapted Whānau Book