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I work at an Early Learning Center that serves Head Start and ECEAP preschool families. We are looking to bring ACES and Resiliency to parents, but want to do so in a way that is strengths-based and does not leave families feeling at a loss for what they can do to move forward from ACES they and their families may have experienced. I have found many resources between this website and some other internet searches, but we are very interested in learning about other organization's experiences with presenting this info to parents. For example, what worked/didn't work, what formats were used (PowerPoint, group workshops, a one-time or recurring meeting, etc.), and how organizations provide ongoing support to families after bringing this to them. 

We would greatly appreciate any insight, suggestions, or guidance from your experiences/knowledge! 

Thank you!

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Great questions. I'm going to tag a few others to chime in as well. @Karen Clemmer (ACEs Connection Staff)@Rene Howitt@Rebekah Couch @Emily Read Daniels @Louise Godbold @Dawn Daum @Joyelle Brandt have all done presentations about ACEs, as have I. I'm sure we all do them differently and have experiences and thoughts on what does/doesn't work. 

My opinion is that sharing from the place of WE and US and OUR is most important. We are all impacted by the ACEs we do or do not carry. If we carry lots, that's a heavier load, meaning the Pair of ACEs. If we carry less or no ACEs, that's an advantage, a lighter load. 

We want our kids to have the best, the most advantages, whether we had that or not. We can do lots to help provide that for our kids, whether we had it or not, and to heal and feel grounded, connected, empowered in our parenting (no matter what type of parenting we have had).

I think it's important to stress hope and healing but not to avoid or ignore how hard early trauma is, how challenging post-traumatic stress and parenting. It's a balance. 

But talking with and to parents, most especially led or co-led by parents in similar circumstances (race, income, place in life) or at least speaking to issues and acknowledging how it can be different depending on present stressors, climate, resources (as opposed to just resilience like it's a shirt that can be put on or off) is helpful. 

Also, realizing what some find hopeful is honesty and truth-telling not what is often referred to as "positive parenting" which might make some feel empowered or can come across as patronizing and minimizing. 

I think sharing the classics: Nadine Burke Harris, Dr. Felitti, Dr. Anda and Donna Jackson Nakazawa - as well as others who have free stuff available on YouTube is great. If you can do that as well as bring in survivor-led advocacy, individuals or orgs, and share them together in a way that's a blend of here's the info and also here's why it matters, I think that is great. 

LINK to LOTS of VIDEOS (free and online) 

Links to resources on ACEs Science & Racism

Some online presentations 

Presentations online from the Attachment Trauma Network (ATN)

Parenting is my SuperPower (one of my own, online, for Federation for Children with Special Needs)

Here's the format I used in a 3-hr. presentation to parents/professionals at Riverside Trauma in MA.

*Share articles by other parents who are survivors and have ACEs and have people have discussions. Make it safe first by sharing, relating, opening the conversation. 

I think having a world cafe or way/place for people to share, process, reflect, is also a good idea and lets people make connections to the material, themselves, and others. 

And then, sharing from parents who have been in the same place about what does/doesn't help, (which of course is personal and varied and so options are a good idea) is also helpful. 

I hope this helps and look forward to what others share. Please share back what you experience and learn so we can learn from you.  WE ARE ALL STILL FIGURING this out, being sherpas, looking for sherpas, and making our ways up and down the mountains. 

This is just a start.

Echo has great resources, Rise and RYSE do as well. Parenting with PTSD has a book and a great social media (Facebook) presence and has a workshop with Here This Now which is new and survivor led.  Link here.

I hope that's a start.


Hi Melissa -
I agree with Cissy!  In my experience families want information, presented in a non judgmental, safe, caring way.  They are often open to conversations and at the same time they (may) need additional support to understand at a visceral level that it is what happened to them - not what is wrong with them.  They did the best they could at the time - whatever that looked like.  Knowledge is power.

Typically I might mention that lots of us in this room have higher ACE scores including myself.  Let's pause and take a moment to think about how we are able to be here today - having this conversation.  Are there people along the way (that one caring adult) who stands out?  *We just reflect quietly, folks do not usually share, but the sense of "US" vs "THEM" sort of melts away.  

Another idea is to use technology so participants can anonymously answer each of the 10 questions - and then compare participant scores to the original study findings.  Each group that I've done this with - scored higher than the original study.  *See attached for copies of the slides.

Afterwards folks are often so
eager to talk about their story - at this point we can talk about hope and how they moved through difficult times - and how this knowledge might inform their parenting as they go forward.

It is a learning journey and each person travels this course at their own pace.
Please take a look at the attached pdf document - it shows the local data compared to the original ACEs data.  Nine out of the 10 categories were higher than the original research.  Only physical abuse was slightly lower ... interesting....
We are not alone in our lived experiences.  

I hope this is helpful!


Melissa....I always start off my ACEs presentation by asking the audience to go back to their own childhood. Think about their siblings, parents, living room and home. As children we are not responsible for what may have happened to us and also had no control over those actions. I tell them "I know that you will be tempted to think about your own marriage, children and parenting but if you stay there this will feel like finger pointing. That is not the purpose of the presentation." Throughout the presentation your audience will make the connection to their own parenting but you have helped them make the connection to their own childhood first.

Prepare but talk from your heart. Their questions and comments will help you to refine your presentation and you will also get better and more comfortable with the content. You got this. Rene

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