On a Tuesday night in Cambridge, at a time when most families are finishing up dinner and getting kids ready for bed, a group of mothers are coming together for a parenting workshop. Even though they are all a part of the same shelter program, they do not know each other. They are separated by language, culture and disparate backgrounds. What they have in common is that they are all tired— tired from spending their days at school, working low-paying jobs, shuttling their children to and from school and daycare, and navigating the various systems of housing assistance, school, and employment. But they do it all because they want the best for their children
At first Tamika was rushed and skeptical. But soon it is clear this will be a different sort of meeting. She gets to talk about her kids! The Parenting Educator asks: “What is it about your child that brings you joy?” Tamika has a ready answer: “I love to see the joy on my son’s face when I make something good happen.” As Tamika warms to the group, she shares that she works hard to make life better for her son, but constantly feels guilty: that her son’s father isn’t in his life, that she can’t spend more time with him, and that she has trouble setting limits and providing structure in the shelter.
Research shows that parenting is critical to improving outcomes for children who live with the chronic stress of poverty, homelessness, and violence. Because your generosity has allowed us to expand our offerings to more parents living in shelters, Tamika and her friends will fill their tool kits with knowledge and strategies that help them build self-esteem in their children, use positive discipline, and communicate more effectively. They will learn to be even better mothers for their children and to help each other too. BJCWF’s support of Families First is transforming families like Tamika’s. Thank you.