Reframing in practice – emerging themes
As part of the Reframing Parenting project, the Parenting Research Centre has been working alongside a number of organisations that support children and families to help them implement framing approaches that reflect the Frameworks Institute research.
We spoke to a few of them recently to find out what had stood out to them in their reframing journey so far, and why they felt it was work worth investing in.
The organisations we spoke to included NAPCAN, EveryChild, Parentline, and raisingchildren.net.au. Among each of these organisations, a few common themes emerged:
It changes conversations
Kirsty Nowlan and Freya Whitehead from the Every Child campaign said that starting conversations and communications with child development as the leading frame, and incorporating other framing findings, has meant they’re having different conversations with stakeholders, from community members to government ministers.
“Our conversations end up a lot more focused on what can be done to support parents, than on the notion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parents” they said.
Kim Harper and Jolanda Horsburgh from Parentline (QLD, NT) spoke about how the research has changed internal conversations as well.
“It became a platform to have conversations about bigger issues as well, with the grounding being an acknowledgement that how we use language matters immensely.”
It can make the work of communicating easier
Helen Fogarty from NAPCAN said that having access to the research has in many ways made the work of communicating easier for them, despite the work involved in adapting to new frames.
“We were so excited to have an evidence base to turn to in developing our messages and campaigns. While this sector talks a lot about evidence-based practice, as communicators we’re often working on instinct rather than data, and the reframing research showed us why that can be mistaken. We now have much more confidence about the impact of the messages we are putting out.”
Reframing had a positive flow on effect we were not necessarily expecting
“It led me to ask questions about how we formulated previous messages, which led me to ask questions about how we use language in our practice as well,” said Kim from Parentline. “This in turn began to shape discussions about the entire way we looked at a problem, which was a snowball effect we didn’t expect when we started this journey.”
It may take some time to bring people along on the journey
When asked what response they had had internally to changing common frames – like the ‘parenting as a struggle’ narrative, and a reliance on describing the vulnerability and disadvantage that many children and families face – all acknowledged that change can be hard and reactions were sometimes sceptical.
However, it was also pointed out that resistance began to dissipate with time and familiarity, and that people tended to respond really well when a clear explanation of the research was provided, including its purpose and methodology. Robyn Ball, editor at raisingchildren.net.au said:
“We’d used ‘parenting as a struggle’ as a key way to show empathy, but now see that it risks activating hopelessness. Instead we’ve moved to a focus on normalising help-seeking while still acknowledging that challenges might be part of the experience of raising children.”
Stories of impact
Some reported stories of greater turnout after changing the name of a workshop, while others spoke of the increased engagement they’d seen on social media (NAPCAN, Parentline, Every Child).
“We started to see people picking up on the framing really quickly. When we asked attendees of our framing workshop if they would change their practice because of the research, almost 100% said they would,” Helen from NAPCAN said. “We’ve seen this emerging in examples across the sector, from the community organisation who began likening themselves to a lighthouse, to organisations overhauling their marketing materials to reflect the research findings.”
There’s so much more to be done
While all were encouraged by where they had got to so far, each also acknowledged that the reframing journey was one of continuous reflection and learning. Robyn from raisingchildren.net.au said they’d used the Frameworks research to develop framing guidelines for their style guide, which will inform their ongoing work.
“This helps the many people involved in content development apply the learnings and develop their skills. We envisage developing and adapting these guidelines over time.”
“It is important to be flexible with how it’s implemented and to see it as a conversation starter rather than a rule book,” acknowledged Kirsty Nowlan. “Every organisation will need to adapt it to their own specific context.”
Want to know more?
- Visit our Reframing Parenting webpage
- Watch this Reframing Parenting webinar with our Director of Policy and Practice, Annette Michaux, along with Frameworks Institute CEO Nat Kendall-Taylor
- Enrol in our Reframing Parenting elearning course – FREE!
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