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By: David Lee Sexton, Jr. & Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

The Person

Pixabay[The Person by Nathanapong on September 10, 2016, CC0]

Does Not Come with a Manual… Sort of.

It is difficult to imagine the stress of being a parent until you become one. One’s own life brings with it innumerable stressors including struggles at work or school, financial worries, maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough exercise, time for self-care and relationships. The list goes on for pages… and pages… When you have a child, you are suddenly responsible for another human being’s life! The thought alone can make some shudder. As many of us are told (albeit sometimes in the very moment they come into our world), kids don’t come with a manual. However, there are resources. Some really good ones! Some evidence-informed ones! The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State has partnered with the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy to develop the THRIVE Initiative.

What is THRIVE?

According to Daniel Perkins, director of the Clearinghouse at Penn State, the THRIVE Initiative seeks to offer parents the tools to nurture and guide their children from the prenatal period until the age of 18, including resources for positive parenting, parent and child stress management, and child health promotion (Auman-Bauer, 2015). It includes face-to-face and online initiatives to guide parents of children of all ages. The program is designed to feature several stages: Take Root, Sprout, Grow, and Branch Out. Each stage focuses on a particular age group, and is specifically designed to offer parents the tools needed to be effective caregivers to children of that age. While other parenting resources exist, THRIVE is unique in its development. THRIVE has investigated multiple existing parenting programs, and used this information to determine what works best in parenting resources; in addition, THRIVE uniquely integrates a health-promotion component based on existing obesity prevention/intervention literature to offer tools for parents to foster healthy habits in their kids (Auman-Bauer, 2015). At this time, the “Grow” program, which targets elementary school aged children, has been developed, and the other stages are in the works. “Grow” has already been beta-tested and the next step is to expand the program to ten military installations with a mix of civilian and military families (Auman-Bauer, 2015).

Want to Learn More?

Check our Anchored. podcast episode 12 on our website and iTunes. During the episode, Jennifer DiNallo, Lead Research and Evaluation Specialist for THRIVE will discuss the initiative’s mission and utility, the structure and organization of the program, and the unique features that make it different from other parenting resources.


K. Auman-Bauer. (December 4, 2015). Penn State initiative helping military families. Retrieved from: