Dealing with Moms and Dads: Family Dilemmas Encountered by Youth Program Leaders


  • Aisha Griffith University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Reed W. Larson University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



The leaders of youth programs encounter a range of challenging situations that involve youth’s parents or families. This qualitative study obtained data on the variety and nature of these family-related “dilemmas of practice.” Longitudinal interviews with leaders of 10 high quality programs for high-school-aged youth yielded narrative information on a sample of 32 family dilemmas that they had encountered. Grounded theory analysis identified four categories of family dilemmas: 1) problems at home that become a concern to the leader, 2) parents’ expectations are incongruent with program norms or functioning, 3) parents do not support youth’s participation in the program or an aspect of the program, and 4) communicating with parents on sensitive matters. Each of these categories of dilemmas entailed distinct considerations and underlying issues that effective leaders need to be able to understand.






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