Chapter: Peer and professional online support for parents

Cover PsychSocNetw

The Internet provides a popular and convenient source of information and support on parenting, offering many opportunities for both peer and professional support. Recent studies have also shown that both parents and children can benefit from online parenting support.
In this chapter, we describe the current variety of online services for parents, distinguishing between peer support and professional support. Specifically we will focus on the design characteristics of these web-based resources. Since Internet technology is still rapidly developing, many new opportunities for social networking are available. The provision of multilayered interaction (many-to-many, one-tomany, one-to-one) and the use of multiple components in websites may enhance the way parents feel supported. Also, training can be added to online programs, which aims to change parental knowledge, behavior and attitude. Furthermore, we discuss experimental results from recent meta-analytic study on the effects of online parental education.
Providing an overview of the past decade, we discuss two major trends which give direction to future research and development: missing aspects of research on online social networking and  inspiring opportunities for online professional support for parents.

Christa Nieuwboer

Ruben Fukkink

Open Access hyperlink to the chapter (DOI)

Why was my Dutch daughter in tears over #Brexit?

My daughter, who is 16, cried bitter tears over the Brexit-result. She loves Great Britain and has plans to study in England. She so much hoped migrants would not be bashed by this vote yet again. But most of all, she hurts because her trust in humanity is suffering badly. She witnesses the victory of the fast and negative sentiments over the slow and positive ones.

Read my column here:

Scoring on immigration – or making an effort for integration?

A pedagogical participatory method to social integration

Banner Symposium Council of Europe

One of the most relevant topics for language learning for migrants is parenting. It is also a topic full of perspectives, feelings and choices. It is therefore uniquely fitting to develop a civic integration and language course using parenting as one of the main themes. Taking the most relevant themes and daily life as the starting point for social integration, and using creative didactic methods, IDEAL/Themis has shown increased levels of language acquisition and participation, even in participants with no formal learning experience.

Thursday March 31, 2016.

Participatory adult learning methods are well-known in developing countries, but they are lacking in the array of integration programmes in Europe. Most linguistic oriented courses are not
suitable for low educated and illiterate migrants without work, which leaves certain vulnerable groups deprived of adequate support for social integration. Such courses lead to course-blocking, frustration and low self esteem.

The pedagogical approach of IDEAL is fundamentally different from linguistic courses and has two imperatives: learning language that matters and exposing learners to different perspectives on topics that are highly relevant to them, such as health and parenting. The programme fosters change towards social integration and tolerance for diversity, which is feasible through sharing narratives and role modeling.

Evaluation shows that participants’ language acquisition and their participation level have improved after completing the programme.

Find our presentation here: Presentation Council of Europe

Learning language that matters. On social integration.

Background: Courses for migrants in Europe are mostly aimed at literacy in western languages as a means for participation in society. These curricula are not suitable for migrants without previous basic education, which leaves groups of migrants vulnerable to alienation and without support for social integration.

Method: The IDEAL-programme (Integrating Disadvantaged Ethnicities through Adult Learning), which takes a participatory didactic approach and in which daily personal and family life is the starting point for learning, was provided and evaluated in the Netherlands and Sweden in 2011–2013. The participants (N = 16) were migrant mothers of Berber and Arabic origin without formal educational experience. The teachers shared the same background and served as role model facilitators and social brokers.

Results: Through exploring their personal narratives, the participants showed new insights,skills, and attitudes on the topics of communication, health and parenting. All participants showed progress in language acquisition and participation in society. The Dutch group of migrant mothers reported to use less physical punishment and threats to their children, and to practise more positive parenting skills instead.

Discussion: Literacy oriented programmes for social integration are not suitable for all migrants and do not encourage acculturation. The proposed method offers a feasible alternative, so that migrants may be more adequately supported in their efforts for social integration in receiving societies. In order to advance the future development of participatory programmes for civic education, several key intervention design principles and political conditions are discussed.

Read our open access article in the Journal of Intercultural Communication: 

Learning Language that matters, a pedagogical method to support migrant mothers without formal education experience in their social integration in Western countries.

Christa Nieuwboer & Rogier van ’t Rood (feb. 2016).

Nieuw boek: In contact met ouders

In contact met ouders

Tal van beroepskrachten komen in contact met ouders en in toenemende mate wordt van hen verwacht dat zij, als onderdeel van het sociaal netwerk van gezinnen, adviseren of ondersteunen bij opvoedvragen. Dit boek laat zien hoe je dat op een laagdrempelige, hartelijke en krachtgerichte manier kunt doen. Samen met een ouder naar nieuwe mogelijkheden zoeken, zodat er (bij beiden!) meer zelfvertrouwen, vaardigheden en inzicht ontstaan. Het boek is vlot leesbaar, speels vormgegeven en geeft tal van praktische tools om met ouders in gesprek te gaan. Het biedt  laagdrempelige toegang tot kennis die door middel van een promotie-onderzoek naar empowermentgerichte online opvoedingsondersteuning tot stand is gekomen.

Het boek is te bestellen via deze link:

New: Center of Expertise Online Youthcare

As head of this new Center of Expertise I will instigate and coordinate research and education on online parenting support and online youthcare. The aim of the Center is to professionalize parenting and youth practitioners and equip them with knowledge and skills and enable them to use online tools in their daily practice.

Find out more: Fontys Expertiscentrum Online Jeugdzorg (in Dutch). Or Contact me to find out more about our international ambitions.

Single session email consultation for parents: an evaluation of its effect on empowerment

Single session email consultation for parents: an evaluation of its effect on empowerment

This study evaluated the effect of single session email consultation (SSEC) on empowerment of parents. Practitioners in a control group (n = 19) received no training and practitioners in an experimental group (n = 21) were trained to use empowerment-oriented techniques in online consultation. Parental empowerment was measured (n = 96) through a questionnaire based on the Family Empowerment Scale before and after receiving advice from a trained or a non-trained practitioner. Parents showed a significant increase in the subscale of self-confidence (Cohen’s d = 0.33). Study findings lend support to the feasibility of SSEC as a brief intervention to improve self-confidence of parents. A training for practitioners did not influence the outcomes.

Nieuwboer, C.C., Fukkink, R.G., & Hermanns, J.M.A. Single session email consultation for parents: an evaluation of its effect on empowerment. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, published online July 1, 2014.

Online tools for youth professionals

Fontys School of Pedagogical Studies is starting a project to enable youth professionals in the Netherlands to access and refer to websites and apps on psycho-educational and social issues. Youth professionals play an important role in referring youth and families to e-health, m-health and online (self-)help opportunities. Students of Fontys are now indexing and describing all kinds of internet interventions. Available soon at