On 28 November 2010, Hong Kong Family Welfare Society (HKFWS) held a press conference to release the preliminary results of the “FAMILY: Harmony@Home Programme” pilot study. This programme was developed in partnership with the HKU’s School of Public Health and HKFWS, and was funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The programme aimed to help parents improve their relationships with their children, and enhance family Health, Happiness and Harmony (3Hs).
This study utilized a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, the most scientifically rigorous experimental method, to test the effectiveness of the intervention. One hundred fifty parents who lived in Tseung Kwan O and had children aged 10 – 13 were invited to take part in this programme. The participants were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. Facilitated by social workers, this preventive parenting intervention offered four weekly group sessions, each lasting two hours.
The pilot study surveyed the parents before and after the intervention, and an additional survey was done three months later. The results showed that those parents in the intervention group showed improvements to family Harmony and Happiness compared to the parents in the control group. In addition, the programme enhanced the parents’ perception of family Harmony and Happiness. The two parents attending the press conference also told the audience how the programme had improved their parenting skills and enhanced their relationships with their children.
This programme integrated the community experience of HKFWS and the scientific expertise of the HKU public health research team. This was the first time that HKFWS had used a scientific design to test a community programme. With these experiences, they successfully built their capacity to develop and evaluate such kind of programme in the future. The research team is now conducting a larger study of the parenting intervention in Tuen Mun, with improvements to the programme and to the assessments.
Families having children would meet various challenges across different developmental stages of their children. Tension may grow especially for parents with children studying P.5 – P.6 who are going to face secondary school place allocation. While these parents concentrate on the academic development of their children, they may easily overlook the quality of parent-child relationship. In fact, when children reach the age of puberty, they will look for “independence” and thus parent-child tension may increase. While their children are still in pre-adolescent stage, parents should equip themselves with good parent-child communication skills and prevent family conflict.