In this article, CANA Ivory Coast describes the CANA Parents journey, and the graces it has brought to CANA’s parents in Ivory Coast.

The CANA Parents program extensively draws upon the social sciences. However, it also incorporates many quotes from the Pope Francis (from the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia of 2016). Being parents! The most beautiful of “professions,” a source of immense, deep, lasting joys, but also of challenges and sufferings commensurate with the stakes.

CANA Parents is a journey of couple and family formation with 8 meetings among adults followed by practical exercises between each meeting and 1 day (or a weekend) as a family, with the children.

This program was constructed at the intersection of several “dimensions”: the social sciences, the Christian faith, and Ignatian spirituality. Its pillars are formation, sharing among us, and prayer.

The program draws upon several sources:

All parents responsible for the education of children aged 6 to 18 from two-parent or single-parent families are invited: Widowed, Divorced, De facto single, and Geographically single.

In 2024, it takes place in four locations across three dioceses in Abidjan (2 locations: 1 religious site and 1 Catholic confessional college), Yamoussoukro (1 location in a parish), and Gagnoa (1 location in a Catholic confessional college).

Ivory Coast has been implementing this CANA Parents program since 2022. In order to share the results of this program, we conduct semi-structured interviews with parents.

The CANA Parents program is a very good program that provides parents with the tools to improve their relationships with their children. No school teaches how to be parents, and it must be recognized that the challenges at the level of the couple itself are so huge that the importance of good relationships with children has not been prioritized. Thus, for all the parents interviewed, education consisted of giving good directions to the children in the hope that they would respect them, or risk being punished or deprived of certain privileges. After the input of the training and exchanges between couples, they see parenthood as an aid to the child’s growth rather than a unilateral relationship in which only their decisions matter. The modules were well-prepared and rich in teaching and lived experiences.

“Each step of the program is essential, but the teachings on sexuality help us enormously in knowing how to address this complex subject with the children from a young age.”

Silué Couple

For all the parents interviewed, each session was an opportunity to learn something new that they could then put into practice in educating their children, especially when they had specific needs that could surpass them. Some parents were new, and others were older, but all had the same concerns: children growing up and an education that evidently was no longer adapted to their needs. This is where the CANA Parents program reassures. It shares specific and meaningful teachings in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Parents understand that just as they are treated in this learning environment, they must also treat their children with a lot of kindness and show them enough trust to be accomplices. This method is particularly engaging and motivates all participants to be there!

“I feel fulfilled and joyful. So far, I haven’t missed any meetings, and I don’t plan to miss any.”

Silué Couple

The level of training received made parents aware that they did not know everything about education. When a parent starts this program, it takes time with themselves to question themselves. Many even started to feel guilty. But what reassures is the open-mindedness of the other parents and the quality of their sharing. In addition, the trainers first show that they were parents in difficulties like them too before mastering the tools of this method… the path is possible!

“The fact of benefiting from the experiences of other parents to improve our relationships with our children helps a lot. Often, we think we are the only ones going through difficult times, but being in community with others helps us to have hope.”

Dr. Akaffou Franck

Many of the parents interviewed saw their relationships with their children in crisis improve after the first three sessions. Without realizing it, most were reproducing the same mistakes as their parents. Yet children nowadays are more communicative given the technological tools they use. It becomes difficult to dictate everything to them as our parents did in their time. Those were the means they had, and today, they seem no longer adapted.

“It improved the management of relationships with the children. We tend to raise our children taking into account the education we ourselves received, and often, this is not the right approach. This program helps us a lot, my wife and me, to guide the education of our children.”

Mr. & Mrs. Kouadiani

Parents have reaped many good fruits from their participation in the program:

Parents who have participated in the program are so satisfied that they recommend it to other people, whether they are Christians or not. This is an indicator that validates the effectiveness of a program. Moreover, these parents say it with a lot of emotion in their voices and joy on their faces. They are happy and ready to be promoters of CANA Parents.

“Yes, I already do it anyway. My sister, who is a Muslim, also participates in this program, and she is 1000 times more motivated than me. Regardless of religion, she saw that this program was a real blessing.”

Mrs. Oka Ida Larissa

The CANA Parents program is well followed and well understood in Ivory Coast. Its participants are satisfied with the teachings they receive.

Their relationships with their children are improved for the happiness of the whole family. They have become promoters, even servants of the program because CANA is a success in Ivory Coast!