Apr 10, 2017
Fostering Healthy Families for Young Parents
Starting a family at any age is a life-changing event, but becoming a parent at a young age presents its own unique challenges. To help young parents with this major life-changing transition, Insights Teen Parent Services offers child development and parent education programs through home visiting services.
Insights’ home visiting programs help nurture strong parent-child attachment and promote healthy development for young parents and their children. The program features a “home visitor” who meets with each family in their home weekly. The home visitor initially spends time getting to know the family. “What are your wishes for your child? What are some of the things that you had in your childhood that you want to continue with your child? What are some of the things you do not want your child to experience? According to Emily Berry, an Insights staff, “It is not helpful or effective to be forceful with topics. We want families to enjoy working with us and feel they have a safe space to talk about their parenting celebrations and concerns. This builds a strong trusting relationship and becomes the foundation for information to be shared and received in ways that create meaningful change for families.” There is no requirement to participate in home visiting services, having someone visit them in their home is always a choice.
When getting to know each family’s strengths or challenges, the home visitor pays attention to some of the common factors that may lead to abuse. Sometimes it could be misconceptions of the timing of child’s development behavior. For example, a mom may expect her child to be potty-trained at 18 months when developmentally, it does not happen until closer to 30 months. This unmet expectation can sometimes lead to stress and anger. The home visitor helps identify these stressful moments and offers opportunity to reflect and inform, developing empathy, understanding and coping skills.
A big part of the success between a home visitor and a family is developing trust. It is a gradual process, built over time. Once it is established, a young parent knows they she can have a safe conversation with a home visitor, sharing vulnerabilities and frustrations with parenting. If a parent is frustrated because her child is taking longer to learn how to walk, the home visitor offers specific activities on developing gross motor skills. This type of support can alleviate anger directed at the child and illustrate the fun of learning and mastering a new skill. Emily says, “Our goal is to be there for our young parents, offering tools and resources when requested. And to look for and create opportunities to offer supports and interventions when they will be received and guidance is needed. We build on their strengths and let them envision the type of childhood they want to give their children.”