Mother’s Day is an important day to recognize and celebrate mothers all over the world. In Guatemala, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 10th. We would like to take this opportunity to lift up some of the mothers who are taking an active role in their children’s lives by participating in Common Hope’s Nurturing Parenting Initiative.
We believe in emphasizing a comprehensive approach to education, and a big part of that includes supporting parents to be more engaged in their child’s education and development process. Through our Nurturing Parenting Initiative, parents go through a ten-week series of workshops that focus on providing parents with positive parenting techniques. The curriculum includes a combination of reflection and sharing of personal experiences for parents and children, as well as modeling and practicing techniques parents can use to raise their children in a nurturing environment. At the end of the workshops, parents who graduate will be able to manage conflicts without using verbal or physical violence, set realistic rules and expectations, and communicate more lovingly. The initiative contributes to Common Hope’s efforts to create a solid home base. Thus, students can excel in school and families can work to reach their goals of building a better life.
Three mothers share their experiences
Wendy is a mother of three and was brought to tears as she expressed how much the Nurturing Parenting Initiative had touched her. “My children are very mischievous and the program helped me to be more calm and patient with them. I have learned how to use my self-control and not scold them by shouting too much.” Wendy went on to share some of the techniques she learned, “I tried to use “time-out” before, but I didn’t really know how to apply it and so it never worked. Now, I have learned how to use it and it is working really well with my children.” It is clear that the program not only influenced the way Wendy cares for her children, but also how she cares for herself: “The program helped remind me to value myself as a mother and to value my children and do the best I can for them. The most important role of a mother is to love her children and look out for their future; to ensure that they have a happy childhood so that they can have a happy adulthood.”
Lourdes is a mother of two who was also very moved by the experience of participating in the initiative. A key part of the curriculum is to develop tools to prevent domestic violence, and during a reflection moment, Lourdes clearly demonstrated what she learned from the program: “I learned to treat my children with more love and care and that hitting is not the way to scold them. I learned how to implement the technique of rules and consequences. Before, I would be exhausted from being mad all the time because they wouldn’t do things around the house. Now we have our house rules visible so my children know that there will be consequences if they don’t follow the rules.It is clear that Lourdes now understands the importance of nurturing her children as part of being a good parent: “The most important thing for a mother to do is to listen to her children, to support them and to give them lots of love. I will carry with me the experiences from the Nurturing Parenting Initiative for my entire life.”
Silvia is a single-mother of four and although her children are teenagers and adults now, she was still able to implement some of the new techniques she learned in the program. Silvia shared that the tool of confrontation has been the most helpful, “My oldest son is grown and doesn’t have to mind me anymore, but I was able to use confrontation to talk with him and share with him how I feel.” Many mothers will talk about the importance of loving their children, but not every mother knows how to show it: “I learned how to use praise. I love my children, but now I’ve put that love into practice and it has helped create a better relationship with them.”
Creating a continuous support system
A beautiful aspect of the program is that it also helps create a support network among parents. Many mothers talked about the friendships and bonds they build with other parents during the workshops and some of them enjoyed the program so much that they volunteered to help with the next cycle of workshops. One mother who was working as volunteer said, “The same way that Common Hope gives to us, we also have to give.”
The Nurturing Parenting Initiative has proven to be a great success. We have seen an increase in participation with 89 parents graduating from the program in 2013 to 139 parents who graduated in 2014. We have plans to continue growing the program in order to impact more families, and we have already launched the program in San Miguel Milpas Altas, which was a great success with 13 new parents graduating from the program. Later this year, we plan to launch in New Hope as well.