Jane Honikman, M.S., became a leader of the social movement to promote the emotional wellbeing of parents and their families through her work with Postpartum Education for Parents (PEP) in the 1970s and the founding of Postpartum Support International (PSI) in 1987. She has written several books on the topic and continues to lecture and train internationally on the role of social support and the emotional health of families. In 2015, Jane co-founded the Parental Action Institute with the mission to energize and revitalize professionals and parent advocates in order to support new families.
I was born in 1945 in Palo Alto, California and my brothers and I attended the local schools. My father had his own business and I had a stay at home mother. I am the product of a traditional nuclear family of the 1950s.
In 1963 I became a student at Whittier College and graduated in 1967 with a BA in Sociology. Whittier was founded in 1887 by the Quakers to provide a liberal arts curriculum with a “learning-centered” focus. I credit my education at Whittier for understanding the importance of community. It led me to become an agent of social change.
I married Terry Honikman on July 16, 1967 and we moved to Santa Barbara, California in 1970. We still live in the home we bought that year.
In the 1970’s, I experienced the joy of motherhood; I also began to feel the paralyzing guilt of not being able to cope and function in my new role. Frustrated by the lack of community support, I helped co-found Postpartum Education for Parents (PEP) to ensure support for myself and others.
AAUW funded PEP in 1977. In 1980, I was awarded an AAUW Member Project/Research grant to conduct A Study of the Dynamics and Development of Postpartum Support Groups and published my results in June 1981. From the 120 questionnaires that were mailed to group contacts, there were 68 responses. This study was designed to serve as a first step in the formation of a National Network of Postpartum Support Groups.
In 1984, I was interviewed by an author, Carol Dix. She introduced me to Dr. James Hamilton and the Marcé Society. I was invited to present about PEP at my first international conference and have maintained active collaboration with this scientific organization.
In 1987, I founded Postpartum Support International (PSI) to represent self-help/support groups working to prevent the negative emotional reactions to childbearing. PSI empowers and encourages interested individuals to create new, as well as support existing, support groups. I continue my work, increasing the resources and contacts available to women, their partners, families and friends.
In 2015, I co-founded the Parental Action Institute (PAI). It is created for individuals who are committed to confronting the stigma of mental illness and the mythology surrounding new parenthood. In a user-friendly and non-lecture style, PAI provides unique learning experiences for all professionals and community leaders working with expectant and new parents. This Institute is dedicated to the power of professionals and advocates who are willing to improve care during the transition to parenthood.
Over the decades, I have authored many articles and educational materials on postpartum issues and how to start community support networks. My expertise is based upon my struggles as a new mother. I continue to lecture and train internationally on the role of social support and the emotional health of families. My own family includes my supportive husband of over 55 years, 3 adult children, their spouses, and 8 grandchildren (and a cat). I enjoy living a healthy and active lifestyle in Santa Barbara.
Jane decided to dedicate this website to her mentor James Alexander Hamilton, MD, PhD (1907-1997) “My life was inextricably altered by knowing James Hamilton. I learned from the best and I owe him the honor of passing this along to the next generations who will continue his life’s work.” Dr. Hamilton was a founder of both Marcé Society and Postpartum Support International.
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