COLLEGE PLACE - A former Walla Walla High School teacher and coach will be in town Tuesday to lead a presentation on parenting.
Mac Bledsoe, who taught English and public speaking at the high school while also coaching the football team, is the founder of "Parenting with Dignity," a national curriculum to empower parents and enrich children.
Bledsoe will be in town with his son Drew Bledsoe, a Wa-Hi graduate and former NFL star who launched the Drew Bledsoe Foundation to support the Parenting with Dignity program. The presentation is open to parents and community members and will be held at Davis Elementary in College Place starting at 6 p.m. A pizza dinner and child care will be provided, and admission is $10 per family. Scholarships are available to those who express need.
Davis Principal Chris Drabek is a longtime friend of Drew Bledsoe, going back to their high school years at Wa-Hi playing football together.
Mac Bledsoe and his wife, Barbara, left careers in education to launch Parenting with Dignity, with the goal of challenging adults to be better parents, and impacting children as a result. Even while they taught children, Mac and Barbara Bledsoe dedicated time to reaching parents through workshops or other presentations in their communities.
"Over 19 years of teaching we were slowly but surely putting together our program," Mac Bledsoe said. Yet their son was the one who eventually gave the final push that made Parenting with Dignity a reality.
About 15 years ago, Drew spoke with his parents about forming a foundation and program to reach parents, something the Bledsoes thought over carefully.
"We had never thought of doing anything other than teaching. We loved teaching school," Mac Bledsoe said.
"It took us a couple of months before coming to the conclusion that it might be a great way to end our career," he said. "By teaching parenting, we might be able to reach a much larger audience."
The Drew Bledsoe Foundation was established, and now the Bledsoes have taken their Parenting to Dignity curriculum to all 50 states and have also found a particularly captive audience in the country's vast prison population.
"Eighty-four percent of the inmates we have locked up in prison are dads," Mac Bledsoe said. "Most of them more than once. We have about 11 million men in America who are either in prison or already have been. We could be talking about 20 million children."
Drabek said the goal of Tuesday's presentation is to introduce parents to the Parenting with Dignity curriculum, with the hopes of launching a series of lessons on the program early next year. The courses require one night a week for an hour meeting time, over nine weeks. Child care would be provided on those nights.
Drabek said several community groups have expressed interest in offering Parenting with Dignity, including some churches and schools. Davis plans to launch the parenting classes for English and Spanish speakers in January.
Bledsoe said his program starts by simply asking parents what their goals are for raising their children. He said some parents are often asking themselves that questions seriously for the first time.
"The core principle of our program is that the ideas in your head will rule your world," Bledsoe said. "They'll rule your world as a parent. If you say, ‘my kids drive me crazy,' then get up in the morning and get ready to go crazy. If kids say, ‘I'm no good at school,' they'll probably be no good at school. It really is that simple."
FOR YOUR INFO
The Bledsoes - including son Drew Bledsoe - will be in College Place on Tuesday to introduce the community to Parenting with Dignity. The evening presentation will be held at Davis Elementary, 31 S.E. Ash St., starting at 6 p.m. The cost of the evening is $10 and includes a pizza dinner. Drew Bledsoe will be signing autographs, and a signed jersey will be raffled off during the evening along with other items.
The school is also offering scholarships to the event to offset the cost. To learn more or apply, call Davis Elementary at 525-5110.
Parenting with Dignity's Five Rules for Parents
1. End any criticism with a positive statement of expected behavior.
2. Criticize performance and not the person.
3. Do not assume they have heard it simply because you have said it.
4. It does not matter what you say; it is what they say to themselves that counts.
5. Send a constant and continual message of love.
On the web
More information available online at www.parentingwithdignity.com.