“The Family Outreach Network could make the journey of parenting, which can be complex and at times difficult, easier to navigate.”
Lou Aymard, Ph.D., teaches and shares the science of successful parenting through the Family Outreach Network (FON) at AACC. As a father and grandfather himself, Lou knows that being a parent is not always easy.
“There is an illusion in our culture that there is a magical way to raise perfect children,” said Lou. “No one is perfect. I don’t know, nor have I ever met, a perfect parent. We have to start out by believing that we are all flawed—that’s how can we cut our losses and enhance our strengths.”
Lou has been working at AACC for 34 years and has taught developmental and child psychology and American Sign Language. After working for 20 years as a child psychologist in private practice, Lou saw a tremendous need to share his knowledge with people on a much larger and more affordable scale.
“If we were to help one parent do a better job in raising a child, that in itself would be a enormous benefit [to society]. One parent who was abused as a child and believes that the only way to discipline a child is to beat them, but somehow in a workshop, town hall meeting, or brown bag session, turns around and realizes that is not the way to go. It changes what would have been a pattern of abusive behavior.”
About four years ago, Lou brought the idea for the FON to AACC. It was highly supported by the college and community and now the FON offers over 30 courses on parenting, a brown-bag lecture series, town hall meetings, workshops, a monthly electronic parenting magazine, and other resources for families.
“Our mission is to provide parents with the most current, reliable information that they need about children, parenting and family life,” said Lou. “We have classes that go from preparing for parenthood to grandparenting. FON could make the journey of parenting, which can be complex and at times difficult, easier to navigate.”
Lou, who now devotes his time to directing FON, explained that there are a lot of practical skills involved in the parenting process that parents never get to practice beforehand. There are different skill sets at different stages of development, so FON offers a broad buffet of learning opportunities depending on where people are in the parenting process.
“It makes good sense that if we know the skills before we are called upon to execute them, that we’ll find an easier path,” said Lou. “The metaphor I like to use is how would you feel if your pilot on a plane from BWI to Los Angeles said that next week he was going to take a piloting class? That is what we do everyday with infants when we give them to the parents.”