Study to improve Fil-Am parent-child relationships seeks participants
LOS ANGELES — Dr. Joyce Javier said she learned early on in her career that teen suicide and depression were invisible issues affecting the Filipino American community.
“Given the stigma and shame associated with behavioral health problems, I knew that we couldn’t address this alone,” said Javier, pediatrician and researcher at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Keck School of Medicine of USC.
So she partnered with community members, schools, churches, community-based organizations and local city officials to come up with a culturally responsive solution.
Together, they identified a parenting program called The Incredible Years that aims to strengthen parent-child relationships, and promote children’s academic and social success. It’s one that Javier, along with other Filipino health care service providers, have been offering throughout the last decade through a group established 10 years ago called the Filipino Family Health Initiative.
Today Javier is leading a study to evaluate the impact of The Incredible Years in the Filipino American community. The study is looking for parents of Filipino children ages 8 to 12 years old to participate in a six-month research. It involves parents and children taking surveys, and parents taking free workshops through The Incredible Years for 12 weeks. Families will receive up to $150 in gift cards for participating.
The study is seeking to have a total of 180 Filipino families, including those that are multiracial. Once researchers reach that number of families, it will stop enrollment, though they are constantly applying for additional funding to expand its reach, Javier said.
“This study is important because it focuses on prevention,” Javier said. “Based on research, we’ve learned that middle childhood ages 8 to 12 is a critical time period where parents have even more power to build stronger parent child relationships so that when their children reach their teen years, the entire family has the tools to make sure these trends reach their full potential.”
Some of the themes covered in the workshops include effective communication, special time with your child, and social and emotional coaching.
The program takes a culturally defined approached in part by facilitating discussions about how to pass down positive cultural values in children. It also reinforces cultural pride, which Javier said is one protective factor against future behavioral health problems.
Javier said she hopes to share findings from the survey with policy makers so that programs like The Incredible Years are available to all families.
“As a parent myself, if my child were being bullied or was thinking about harming themselves, I want them to be able to come to me for help and not feel like they have to keep their problems inside,” she said.