Putting a face to the problem

Learning how to be a parent

Twenty years ago, Ellen Ringier foun­ded Stif­tung Eltern­sein (the Paren­t­hood Foun­da­tion), follo­wing her inner convic­tion that more support was needed for paren­ting trai­ning. Since then, brin­ging up child­ren has become much more complex. Stif­tung Eltern­sein has taken on this chal­lenge. Through the services it provi­des, it has become an estab­lished insti­tu­tion when it comes to paren­ting classes.

As human beings, we tend to brush problems and feelings of being over­whel­med under the carpet,’ points out Thomas Schlicken­rie­der, Mana­ging Direc­tor of Stif­tung Eltern­sein. That’s where the foun­da­tion comes in. They discuss problems such as paren­tal burnout and shine a light on them. ‘When we raise the issue and make people aware that thousands of parents suffer from depres­sive exhaustion, we put a face to the topic and those affec­ted no longer feel alone,’ he adds. ‘The know­ledge that others are hurting too doesn’t lessen your own pain, but it does make it easier to bear.’ The foun­da­tion encou­ra­ges discus­sion among those affec­ted to get parents out of their isolation.

Easily acces­si­ble training

The idea for Stif­tung Eltern­sein grew from a desire to exchange expe­ri­en­ces and a curio­sity to find out more. When asked about her moti­ves, foun­der Ellen Ringier says: ‘I suspect that highly trai­ned lawy­ers like myself often think they know the answers to life’s questi­ons.’ Comple­tely unde­re­sti­ma­ting the diffi­culty of brin­ging up child­ren, she had never picked up a paren­ting manual or anything like it before. To drive a car or a motor­boat you need trai­ning and a licence. But not to become a parent. ‘That didn’t make sense to me. The name of the foun­da­tion came from the German saying that beco­m­ing a father is easy, but being a father is a diffe­rent matter. ‘Vater sein’ (being a father) became ‘Eltern­sein’ (being a parent), and Stif­tung Eltern­sein was born.’

Paren­ting trai­ning for all

In the foundation’s anni­ver­s­ary report, experts express their opinion that the chal­len­ges faced by parents when raising their child­ren will only grow in the future. As an example, Katrin Aklin from Stif­tung OPA is quoted saying, ‘Some­thing that seems obvious in the world of work is not univer­sally acknow­led­ged when it comes to the role of the parent: it’s become more complex. Paren­t­hood is no longer just a matter of common sense … We urgently need to update our know­ledge in this area, instead of refer­ring back to our own child­hood expe­ri­en­ces. Prepa­ring child­ren for the future requi­res parents to rethink their role and keep lear­ning.’ Stif­tung Eltern­sein tack­les this with the future-focus­sed project ‘Eltern­bil­dung für Alle’ (Paren­ting trai­ning for all).

Looking ahead

The readers of Fritz+Fränzi and the visi­tors to the website will be actively honing their skills as parents on a conti­nual basis, writes Thomas Schlicken­rie­der. One group of parents might seek advice if they have a speci­fic problem, and anot­her
might not access paren­ting trai­ning at all, because they deem it unnecessary. Due to the incre­a­sing comple­xity of child-rearing, he consi­ders paren­ting trai­ning indis­pensable.
‘Our new digi­tal, easy-to-use formats are highly acces­si­ble to new lear­ners,’ explains the Mana­ging Direc­tor. The foun­da­tion hopes that this will lead scep­ti­cal parents gently towards their offe­rings. ‘We aim to keep parents one step ahead of their child’s deve­lo­p­ment in terms of their own know­ledge, so that they perceive their child as an enrich­ment to their lives and support them, rather than seeing them as an inconvenience.’

A whole spec­trum of media channels

Stif­tung Eltern­sein began 20 years ago with the print maga­zine Fritz+Fränzi. ‘Today, we’re active across nine chan­nels,’ says Thomas Schlicken­rie­der. ‘We have print media, news­let­ters and our website, along with social media – Face­book, Pinte­rest. We have films, as well as events, work­shops and awareness weeks. The expan­sion of our offe­rings has meant that we take social chan­ges into account, as well as alte­red, varied media use and the trend towards simple, easily under­stand­a­ble, mainly digi­tal formats,’ he explains.

All you need to know about Fritz+Fränzi; a review of 20 years of paren­tal education.

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