Family Health

Universal Parenting Place Offers Support for Parents of All Kinds

Apr 4 • 2017

Managing the parent-child relationship can be tough for any family. Having the right support and guidance can help build a healthy bond – that’s why we’re so proud to have partner with Universal Parenting Places (UPP). UPP offers a judgment-free space where parents can receive professional counseling, information, and emotional support for family-related issues or concerns.

Family dynamics are different for everyone. With that understanding, the Universal Parenting Place doesn’t limit their services to biological parents only. “Grandparents or other guardians would be able to attend any seminars that we do, which are on a variety of parenting topics,” said Paige Marcantel, site director and family counselor. “It’s important for people to know that any sort of family structure can come and receive family services here.”

In the past, UPP has seen grandparents who need assistance with parenting-related issues; multi-generational families; aunts and uncles who have custody of a niece or nephew; foster parents; and adult siblings of who have custody of minor children.

“The biggest thing is that we try to help whoever is taking on that parenting role work through the change occurring in their life because they’ve taken on that role,” said Marcantel. “It is a big change for everyone in the family when a grandparent or another adult is parenting.”

For grandparents in particular, addressing some of today’s parenting challenges is especially important because things have changed so much since they had children the first time. “Sometimes it’s just providing support for them so they can figure out a new way to do things that will work out for them and for the kids,” she said. “Sometimes it’s helping them figure out how social media works if they’re raising a teen, or how to put limits on media time. Those things weren’t an issue when they were raising their own kids.”

Adults transitioning into the parenting role aren’t the only ones who need support, though. Kids who are being moved into a new household for custody reasons are also going through a change and it’s important that parents know how to communicate in a different way. With support from UPP, families have an opportunity to try and find ways to create a new sense of unity and togetherness.

“I think that when grandparents specifically come to counseling, the biggest thing is recognizing that it’s okay to need help,” said Marcantel. “It’s okay to not have all the answers. Having someone help you navigate the journey is good – we don’t have to figure everything out by ourselves.”

Coming in to the counseling sessions with a willingness to try new things is key – especially because this new parenting relationship might mean doing things differently than they did in the past when they parented their own children. As times continue to change, it’s important to be flexible. UPP can help show the benefits of this and how to best implement it in your home.

“We want everyone to know that they are welcome here. These centers are for anyone taking on the parenting role. It doesn’t have to be what we traditionally think of as a family. We want to recognize and affirm that all families are valuable and they all have their own uniqueness. We’re here to celebrate that and help them get a heathy path – no matter how they became a family.”

There are currently three Universal Parenting Places in Memphis, including one at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women.