Parents Anonymous and STEP Changed Our Outcomes

Rage and anger might have fueled the train but, thankfully, Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer were in the engineer’s seat.

Stopping my anger was like trying to stop a runaway train and I could almost predict what would happen if child protective services got involved.

This is the edition of “Parenting Young Children” I began using; it was with this book that I realized that as a parent, I did have options.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 12, 2014

Thankfully, Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer were there for me and they were not a law firm.

The Parents Anonymous meetings offered choices in parenting style without judgment or pressuring parents to adhere to any one option. The Freehold, New Jersey group chose Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), Parenting Young Children by Don Dinkmeyer, Sr., Gary D. McKay and James S. Dinkmeyer. The STEP book became my go-to resource for solutions. I loved the nonviolent discipline offered within its pages and that the books adapted as my children grew. STEP was also easy to read and understand and even better – it was practical and, as its label stated, it was effective.

This edition was updated with only a few minor changes that would enable parents to take control of their lives and the stress in it.

Before the topic of ‘problem ownership’ I had been constantly besieged with decisions on how to handle an issue, if it was important or serious and what consequence to give. Like turning on a light bulb, though, deciding who owned the problem helped my family immediately.

STEP gave four questions to help parents decide who is responsible for a particular problem:

1. Does the problem interfere with my rights as a person?
2. Does the problem interfere with the safety of my child or others?
3. Does the problem involve the protection of property?
4. Is my child developmentally incapable (too young or disabled) of “owning” or solving the problem?

If parents answered “yes” to any of those questions then parents owned the problem. If the answer is “no” then children own the problem, depending on the age of the child.

Parenting teens was less stressful since the groundwork was put in place when my girls were much younger.

An example: I got both kids up for breakfast, dressed and then off to school. If one child forgot their homework or book, they owned the problem. They could decide if they wanted to take their consequence from the teacher (drop in grade, detention, etc.) or if they wanted me to drive to the school and bring it to them for a $5 fee. More often than not they chose for me to bring the homework/book to them at school and they paid me the $5 charge.

No, I didn’t need the $5 that would come out of their allowance but the ‘pain’ of financial loss may make them more careful about getting their things ready the night before. Doing this also eliminated the usual arguments and nagging: “Why did you forget?” “Why didn’t you get it together last night?” Deciding who owned the problem also erased any temptation to say anything labeling them as thoughtless or careless. Over time there were fewer needless trips to school.

With these STEP books and the support of Parents Anonymous’ weekly meetings, I was able to change the direction we were headed in to have a better outcome.

Deciding who owns the problem does not apply in every case such as sibling fights or playing hooky from school but it is a technique children can easily learn and take with them into their adult lives. The stress reduction is immeasurable and relationships remain intact.

The STEP books can be found on any online used book seller like Amazon or by googling “Dinkmeyer STEP” books and they are quite affordable. Used books are graded according to condition and may come from a variety of dealers. Shipping is a factor to consider and it can add to the total price; Amazon Prime is what I use for a reasonable annual fee (See for details). I recently bought four STEP parenting books to give to parents for $24.21 with a new cost value of at least $20 each.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jayson Shenk Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Many thanks to Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST

Facebook: Parent Rap

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
This entry was posted in Anger, Parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Parents Anonymous and STEP Changed Our Outcomes

  1. always great posts!! Good ideas too- such as charging the 5 dollars!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good job as always. Hugs, Barbara


    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      These books are great, easy to read and put into practice. One of my daughters provided free childcare to the group when she was older. One day I was talking with another mom before we went to our room a few steps away and I saw Chelsey use distraction with a younger child and I was very surprised. I asked Chelsey where she learned to do that and she said from reading the STEP books. Now if that isn’t a testimony for STEP books, I don’t know what is.

      Thank you so much, Barbara. 🙂


Share your thoughts and ideas!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s