Over 60 families gathered for the first Crianza session of the year. The mood was cheerful, with many laughs and smiles to be found. The reason for their attendance differed—some came to share stories, others to meet new people—but all participated with the goal of becoming a better parent.
The Nurturing Parent Initiative, also known as Crianza con Cariño, was implemented as a way to create awareness and change ideas about parenting. The program aims to provide parents with early childhood stimulation activities and positive parenting techniques. It also gives both children and parents the knowledge and tools they need to improve communication.
Program manager Vanessa Cassiano Hernandez has created many new aspects to the program since she took over the role last year. She now recruits mothers that have already participated in the program to support the current workshops and encourages them to promote the training in their own communities. She wants to show mothers the power of working together and motivate them to lead a campaign for the better treatment of children.
Vanessa’s passion for the program is evident. About her work she says,
“It is very gratifying to know that I’m able to help children by creating awareness in their parents. It’s a chain; if you can change a parent’s mentality, that will improve the lives of their children. That is what motivates me.”
The mood during the first session shifted from lighthearted to emotional as parents were asked to reflect on their childhood and describe both good and bad memories. The group leaders asked them to stand in the section of the room that best represented their childhood– whether it was good, bad, or in-between. Next, parents were asked to move to the section of the room that represents the childhood of their children. Many stayed in the same place. This activity helps parents realize an important point that is repeated throughout the program—that when we are born, we don’t know how to be parents and that we learn it from our own parents.
Emotions remained high as mothers from past sessions gave testimony as to what they learned. One mother said that before the workshops, she yelled a lot. Now she explains to her kids the consequences of their actions. Her kids also remind her to stop, breathe, and talk instead of yelling.
Over the last few years, attendance and completion rates have steadily climbed. Vanessa’s goal for 2014 is to have 70 families complete the program, but she has strong reason to believe she can exceed that number. Common Hope’s goal is for all affiliated families to receive access to the program by the end of 2016. We believe that more positive discipline and communication in the home will improve children’s self-esteem, and will allow for a significant improvement in their educational development.