How PFSA Helps Parents

Click here for information on Challenging Parenting Situations

When there is Substance Use Disorder

When there is child welfare involvement

When a parent is incarcerated

When parents are separated or divorced


Parenting is a tough job, maybe the toughest job there is. There’s very little or no training given.

At PFSA, we believe that every parent can use more of two things: one is information and the other is support.

We provide information on topics of interest to parents, and a variety of publications and resources. We also encourage visitors to find support through family support programs in your community.

Neither information nor support can solve all problems. We encourage you to get professional help whenever it is warranted. No website can take the place of a doctor, counselor, or other professional.

We hope the information here helps you enjoy your most important role – parent!


Talking Points for Parents

• Get comfortable talking about the uncomfortable topics. Sexual abusers rely on your discomfort as a way to keep a child from telling you what’s happening. Don’t put this all into one “big talk.” Talk about safety from abuse the same way you talk about other kinds of safety. You can use the news-making events as a starting point for talking to your child.
• Teach your child the proper names for body parts and answer their questions. Tell them that some parts of their body are private and that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts without a parent being present. 
• Tell your kids that it is ok to say “no” to adults, NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE. Tell them that it is ok for them to tell you if they are scared or uncomfortable around an adult, even if that adult is a close friend, family member or someone the child respects and loves.
• Listen to your kids when they tell you about situations that make them uncomfortable. Realize that this may lead to an embarrassing or uncomfortable situation, but that your child’s safety comes first. Reassure your child that he will not get into trouble if he tells you what’s happening.
• Help your child to understand that a secret is not the same as a surprise. Inappropriate touching should not ever be a “secret,” even if the abuser tells your child to keep a secret. Surprises are about anticipating happy things for a short while. Secrets exclude others, usually because the secret will create upset.
• Set an example by respecting your child’s privacy at home. Every adult and every child deserves privacy in bathing, when getting dressed and sleeping. Respect your child’s boundaries in playing, teasing and affection. 
• Report anything you suspect might be sexual abuse. You do not have to be “sure” or “prove” anything. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

Bottom line: it is not a child’s job to protect himself from abuse. All adults have a responsibility to keep all children safe!

Proactive Parenting

• Be involved in your child’s life. Know your child’s interests and friends, go to his sports events, and know all of the adults who interact with your child. Make time for your child – nothing is more important.
• Know that children sometimes feel that can’t talk to their parents. Help your child identify some adults that both you and your child can trust, so that your child can reach out for help if needed.
• Communicate with your child. Listen and then listen some more. Believe and trust what your child tells you. If your child knows you will listen, trust him and believe him, he is much more likely to come to you before abuse occurs.
• Watch for inappropriate behavior in other adults or older youth –this is your job as a parent. Children cannot always recognize these behaviors and protect themselves. Talk to your child and educate him about inappropriate touching – but make sure YOU are aware.
• Set up clear, firm rules and guidelines for everyone in your home. Stick to them. Show your child how to say “no” to unacceptable behavior by saying “no” when you are treated in a way that violates your boundaries or values.
• Know the signs of possible abuse. Because each child is unique, symptoms of sexual abuse vary and can be hard to identify, but parents should be aware of changes in modesty, body image or sexual behavior. Notice physical symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, sleep disturbances or bed wetting. Some children use “escape behavior” like running away, drug use or isolation and other children may have problems in school, with peers or aggressiveness.

Bottom line: it is not a child’s job to protect himself from abuse. All adults have a responsibility to keep all children safe!

Behaviors that could be a cause for concern:
• Refusing to let a child set any of his own limits; using teasing or belittling language to keep a child from saying “no”
• Insisting on hugging, wrestling, kissing, tickling or holding a child even when the child does not want the attention.
• Having secret interactions with children or teens or spending unusual amounts of uninterrupted time alone with a child. Having a “pet” child, often a different child each year.
• Frequently walking in on children/teens in the bathroom or in the bedroom while they are sleeping or dressing.
• Exposes a child to adult sexual interactions without concern. Makes sexual references or suggestive jokes when children are present.
• Turning to a child or teen for emotional or physical comfort by sharing personal or private information that is usually shared with adults.
• Seeming “too good to be true.” For example, frequently babysits for free, takes children on special outings alone, buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason.

While single behaviors, in themselves, do not indicate that a person is sexually abusing children, these behaviors, especially in combination, may suggest that an adult is at risk to abuse a child.

Bottom line: it is not a child’s job to protect himself from abuse. All adults have a responsibility to keep all children safe!

Ways You Can Connect