Back to School Parenting Tips from Shirlee Smith

Friday, August 26, 2016 | 9:48 pm

Pics01ForShirlee1-410x22111111211There are thousands of parenting guides, books and magazines but very few women willing to get tough and talk the truth about parenting. Shirlee Smith founded the nonprofit, Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith, to educate parents about how to improve and strengthen the family life. Her programs include Mothers Behind Bars – an initiative aimed at women in prisons and classes in a variety of topics.

“I see the need and recognize that – unfortunately too many parents don’t have a clue,” she said.

Smith is a former stand-up comedian who raised six children before deciding to get involved in the foster baby program. From there she focused on educating parents and building strong families in the community.

“So many people miss the basics…I’m trying to help parents get on a better path,” said Smith.

We had a chance to talk with Smith about how parents can be advocates for their children in and out of the classroom.

“A good parent is one who knows their child well and recognizes that their child is an individual,” she said. This means parents don’t try to force their dreams on their children or compare them to their peers. She jokes that just because Dad didn’t make the football team; it doesn’t mean that his son should start training.

For younger students, she recommends visiting the campus on a weekend prior to enrollment, so children can get comfortable with their new surroundings. She is also a firm believer in parent involvement and suggests parents visit the school, meet the teachers and sit in on classes.

“Recognize that you can be an advocate for your child by being there…you know your child better than the teachers do,” she said. Smith adds that parents can request advanced placement classes or alternative choices for their children and should familiarize themselves with the school’s offerings.

“With older children, you need to show up just as much as with younger children,” she said.

Talk About Parenting offers practical tips based on Smith’s experience raising her children as a single parent and raising a foster drug exposed newborn who’s is now 25 years old whom she recently adopted. Her work is supported through donations and funds from Los Angeles County, The Wilt Chamberlain Foundation, SBC Foundation, Philanthropist Adelaide Hixon, City of Pasadena. Wells Fargo, Union Bank

For more information about Talk About Parenting and Shirlee Smith, visit or donate here:




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