Parenting itself can oftentimes be an overwhelming task. Parents want the best for their children. When met with added stressors, however, a parent might not be in a state of mind to make the healthiest choices for their children and, at times, unintentionally put their children at higher risk for abuse or neglect.
These stressors are happening every day in communities. A mom may unexpectedly become a single parent. A family may lose a loved one. A dad may lose his job and now the family is in poverty. A mom may not have the resources to address her own mental health needs. Trauma from the past collides with current trauma, triggering unhealthy coping skills that a dad learned from the way that he was parented. The list goes on.
Support from neighbors and professionals can make all the difference in these families’ lives.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a call to action for every member of our shared communities to come together in support of children and strengthen families.
At The Guidance Center, we envision a community where all children and their families have the help they need to be healthy and happy. We believe the key to building that community starts with raising awareness and coming together to support each other.
For the Community: How We Can Strengthen Families Together
Strengthening families in our communities can start with simply getting to know our neighbors, building friendships and being there for each other when challenging life stressors present themselves. Offering compassion and understanding, rather than blaming or shaming, when you notice a family struggling can have an incredibly positive impact.
Child abuse or neglect can be intergenerational. It’s especially difficult to break the cycle if a parent doesn’t know where to turn for help. Your friendship and encouragement may be just what a parent who is struggling needs to seek services.
To find resources for information on the possible signs of abuse and how you can look out for a child’s best interest, visit Child Welfare Information Gateway, www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/, and Child Abuse Prevention Center, www.brightfutures4kids.org/programs/signs-of-abuse/.
For Parents: Where to Go for Support if You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Parenting is a big job! It’s worth repeating that parenting itself can be an overwhelming task. The stress can make you feel isolated. You may even feel too embarrassed to reach out for help, but you’re not alone in feeling uncertain about what to do in every situation, and there is no shame in asking for help.
Just as much as your child needs support from you and other healthy adults in their life to grow and develop, so do you as a parent.
Feel empowered with these healthy discipline tips and general information about your child’s development from Parenting Counts (en Español), http://www.parentingcounts.org/parent-handouts/, and Kids Health, https://kidshealth.org/. Find parenting support groups and classes in the Greater Long Beach area at TLC 4 Counseling, http://www.tlc4counseling.com/classes.
Priscilla Gomez, MSW is The Guidance Center’s Early Childhood and Trauma Care Clinician at Educare Los Angeles at Long Beach.