Brian Brown Nebraska Realty Ad

Support the population-we™ Movement here...

Monday, February 6, 2012

CHANCE: Changing How Adults Nurture Children’s Egos in Domestic Violence

Christina Dalpiaz
Do you believe that people can change for the better? Christina Dalpiaz does. Working in a high burnout field, it is her belief that people can change that continues to motivate her. She said, “People change when they are given new tools that work. I watch transformation every single day. That's what makes this job so great. People often say that my line of work has to be hard but I say it is great as I see them make their lives better for the sake of their children. One father told me that he was abusing his family after a one-day class, said he didn't want to do that anymore and entered into therapy with me. When all you have is a hammer the world looks like a nail. Give them more tools. They'll use them.”

I first learned of Christina Dalpiaz and her organization CHANCE (Changing How Adults Nurture Children’s Egos) when I watched the last part of an interview on a local cable access program where she fielded thoughtful questions by Kent Pavelka, a broadcast journalist in Nebraska. Dalpiaz had a sincere and nonjudgmental demeanor towards the parents who were willing to learn replacement skills to keep custody of their children. As I am aware that many children get lost in state welfare systems, I believe a program that helps keep children in their own homes where possible is vital.

Through her work with CHANCE and other organizations, Dalpiaz works to stop or to prevent Domestic Violence. For the sake of children, Dalpiaz wants to drive home the message the violence in the home is socially unacceptable. Her program focuses on treating the whole family. According to her, you cannot fix one part of the family while the other is broken. Her program teaches replacement skills and healthy habits for healthy homes. Regarding the approach to treat the entire family she said, “We believe the whole family needs treatment and education as nothing changes when one part of the system is ‘fixed’ and the other is still ‘broken.’ There has been a debate that it is a punishment to enforce treatment but if you don't then the victims leaves the relationship and continues finding others who abuse them and the perpetrators find other victims. This only creates more victims and victim children.”

Severe cases of violence may be a result of waiting too long to help a family according to Dalpiaz. The philosophy of her approach is that everyone wants control and power and with the right tools they can learn to be heard in a healthy way and have their needs met without abusing others. In 30 years of treating others she can count on one hand the number of people who did not change. This is a powerful testament to her of most people having a good human nature. Those with poor role models often can break the cycle of abuse with the right help.

To prevent abusive relationships before they start, Ms. Dalpiaz is involved with a group called SAFE (Stay Alert, Fun and Engaged). She describes the group as an empowerment program to help women select partners, friends, and jobs that lead to a healthy life.

I recently purchased Here’s Your Chance, a book by Dalpiaz that gives techniques for parenting to help good parents become even better parents. I found the same sincere tone from the interview and our phone conversations. After teaching interactive skills to parents in domestic violence situations, abused teens, or new parents who needed support for more than 11 years, she entered the trenches herself when she became a para-parent to her little nephew who had troubling experiences prior to her having custody. Her expectations of parenting would soon become much more realistic. She now understands that parenting is a 24 hour job and everybody is going to lose their grip at times. After describing a woman who was frustrated and being hurtful, she said, “This woman was not abusive-only frustrated. But the threshold between frustration and abusiveness can sometimes be a very fine line. It is essential that we understand where the threshold lies for us, and that we recognize the need to call a time-out before we get to the point of ‘losing it.”

Trusting yourself as a parent, starting each day fresh with a carrying over what works are themes in the book. She said that nobody knows an individual child better than the parent who spends most of the time with the child. Having a sense of humor and using creativity are also encouraged to help change one’s outlook.

Children internalize messages that the adults in their lives give them. The message may not always be the intended message as Dalpiaz points out. She has exercises on phrasing statements in positive ways whether it is teaching a child to clean or encouraging a child school.

Dalpiaz reminds us that children are basically innocent and want to please adults. With a background in early childhood education and psychology, she is very aware of the concrete stage of thinking children have and how important it is for adults who have the power to say and do things to help a child grow into a confident and compassionate person.

When you are busy and constantly say no to request, you are sending a message that the child is not worth your time. Fifteen minutes is the minimum time that she encourages parents to spend with a child a day. She encourages parents to spend more time if possible. When it is not possible, she encourages them to give a child a clear message prior to the activity regarding time constraints. She discourages using material rewards for children, which she said give you little return on your investment in the way of respect or cooperation from the child. Quality time is the reward that children need and the one that will reap the greatest rewards for the parent according to her. She asks if a parent wants them to equate their self-worth with material things or with the parent.

It is easy to point fingers and find fault. It is not always easy to find solutions. Dalpiaz is part of the solution and shows how a person can change if given the right CHANCE.
-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.


  1. Note:Christina Dalpiaz is diligently working on a new edition to the book, which adds 15 years of additional knowledge. The title of the new edition will be Parent-In 'Syle. As time goes by, I plan to buy all of her books for myself or as gifts. I may make additional comments and also share more from the questions Ms. Dalpiaz answered in the future.

  2. Barbara, thank you for the amazing comments. I have been feverishly working on the book's revision and renaming it, "Parent-In' Style" as it may better define the contents of the book. I hope others can learn fun replacement skills to assist their family.

  3. Barb: Thanks for giving population-we™ readers a glimpse into CHANCE & Founder, Christina Dalpiaz. We look forward to keeping in touch and partnering with CHANCE on future endeavors. Kudos Christina -- you are really making a difference in the lives of so many families.

  4. Christina, it was my pleasure! One thing I didn't convey in my comments was the fun sense of humor that you use in the book. It really clicks with me. Also, you said you use your sense of humor in speaking engagements too. I think parents of all people need a sense of humor! Plus, children are such a blessing and if you step back and just take it all in sometimes it can be so sweet and at times funny.

  5. Christina told me about another book that she wrote that I want to read soon. She said, " In my book Breaking Free, Starting Over, I followed 30 families. It is a very comprehensive look at how to help children healing from violence."

  6. I recently started reading Christina's autobiography Sparrows in a Hurricane. She shows how you can be a survivor and overcome severe abuse, neglect, and poverty. I am grateful for those who made her feel special and showed her kindness along the way. If you see a dirty little girl with an equally dirty doll outside a run down home living in poverty, she just might grow up to live the remarkable life of Christina Dalpiaz. But even if she doesn't, she needs to be valued for the special little girl she is and her own vast potential.

  7. I also wanted to add the link from Amazon. It is long so I hope it goes through okay. If you read it, you will see comments from someone affiliated with the Betty Ford Clinic regarding the book.

  8. Below is Christina's description of her ABC Parenting Presentation:
    It stands for Anger management, Behavior modification and Communication. Anger is based on feeling out of control. I give techniques that permit parent to feel competent without damaging their children's self-esteem. I give concrete tools for behavior modification that gives parents options besides punishment. I teach them how to be motivational speaker for their children. A child is apt to make a good thing better than to make a bad thing good. Communication is the most difficult part of a relationship and children just can't say, "Mom, Dad, I feel inadequate today." They know they feel bad but cannot always express it effectively so it comes out as anger. I give parents 3 communication strategies that work.

  9. Read with interest thank you. I used to work in the community with parents with complex needs - by complex I mean with drug and alcohol problems, mental health or personality issues, poverty, poor housing, or who had experience of abusive parenting themselves. It was a wonderful project and I trained in a Parents Under Pressure program. there was a great neeed for this support in my community. It was a tough, and sometimes heart breaking job, particularly when babies had to be removed. That said, it was better these babies were removed, and were removed quicker as a result of out early intervention. We did make a difference by going into peoples homes (sometimes daily) and many mums and dads got to keep their babies with support. Imagine the sadness I felt when this vital work was axed due to lack of funding!

  10. Thank you for your insights, Nettie. It takes a gift and it is great to hear that you made a difference. I am sad to hear about the funding being stopped. :( You are right about it being complex and that makes it all the more important. ---Barb Bohan

  11. I am very pleased to announce that Christina Dalpiaz has started a blog.

  12. The new addition of Christina's parenting book is to buy in both print and kindle.

  13. More recent news: Christina has co-authored a book about healthy relationships, "How to Depolarize Your Jerk Magnet." Her web site has been updated and the link has changed.