By Sarah Green
When I was 9 years old, my best friend and neighbor came over and confided in me that her dad had whipped her, and not for the first time. Not understanding what that meant, she showed me her bottom, which was covered in black, blue and bloody marks. My friend stated that it was okay, she deserved it and that’s what happens when you do something wrong. It was my first real understanding of child abuse and its lasting impact. I saw how the messaging of “you deserve this cruelty” affected her belief in herself, love and family. To this day, she struggles with her sense of value.
As a parent of two boys, I remember challenging times where instead of responding thoughtfully and respectfully to my children, I reacted aggressively with yelling or spanking. These moments cause me to cringe, and they’ve also given me great empathy toward how overwhelming parenting can be at times. Without the right tools, and with plenty of life stressors on our plates, our small people can often take the brunt of our fears, hurts and unmet needs.
What we do each and every day as caregivers of our children, grandchildren, stepchildren or foster children, creates patterns of health and trust, or hurt and fear. If we were raised with fear tactics, threats, physical or verbal violence, those things tend to resurface when raising children.
If you combine our own upbringings with today’s pressures of finances and paying bills, finding housing, educating ourselves and our children, we’re all struggling. It’s difficult to slow down and truly give children what they need. As caregivers, we all need support and additional tools to raise children successfully, and with the love, kindness and respect they deserve.
Thankfully, in Chaffee County there are a lot of services and supports for families including the Early Childhood Center, Nurse Family Partnership, Public Health, Boys & Girls Club, our schools and more. We at Family & Youth Initiatives (FYI) offer one-on-one parenting support for families, which can include parenting tools as well as accessing needed resources, and group parenting classes open to the public. Our goal is to offer hopeful alternatives and supports to local families so that we can eliminate child abuse and neglect in our county.
Asking for support with raising children isn’t easy, but always worth it! Please reach out to FYI for more information, Sarah Green, FYI Family Program Coordinator, at 719.207.5000 or Ann Marie Swan, FYI Family Partnership Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.