Skills for Families, Skills for Life: How to Help Parents and Caregivers Meet the Challenges of Everyday Living

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Revised and Expanded Edition
Amy Simpson, Paula Kohrt, Linda M. Shadoin, Joni Cook-Griffin and Jane L. Patterson
Boys Town Press
162 pages plus CD-ROM. $19.95 paperback.

When families are in crisis – whether losing their homes or facing abuse, illness or other challenges – helping professionals often discover that the parents and caregivers lack essential skills to keep children safe and thriving. Interventions must not only address crises but also offer strategies for improving family care. However, practitioners might not have techniques or resources for teaching such skills.

Written by Boys Town’s In-Home Family Services staff, this book – an update to a 1999 edition – fills that need by providing straightforward directions for clients on 132 living skills covering 13 areas of care giving, from child supervision to stress management. Introductory tips coach practitioners on teaching skills in a sensitive manner matched to clients’ concerns and abilities.

Each chapter opens with a statement of an overall problem, such as “Family members have difficulty communicating with others” in the Communication chapter. Its step-by-step instructions build 20 skills, such as “active listening” and “holding family meetings.”

The Nutrition chapter gives grocery shopping instructions as basic as, “Get a shopping cart as you enter the store.” By contrast, the Preventing Abuse chapter offers complex assessments of oneself and others as potential physical or sexual abusers, with advice on teaching children about inappropriate touching. Remaining chapters address relationships, education, housing, medical and mental health, money management, informal and formal support, and home and community safety.

At the end of the book are starting points for locating additional resources. A CD-ROM contains skill lists in printable format for use in individual treatment plans, with room for client notes.

This practical guide enhances service in any setting where social workers, therapists, counselors and other practitioners aid troubled families. (800) 282-6657,