St Mary par­ents ‘stay con­nected’

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - ru­ral@glean­erjm.com

AS PART of Na­tional Par­ent Month, the St Mary Health De­part­ment’s Child and Ado­les­cent Men­tal Health Ser­vices last week de­liv­ered a special sem­i­nar de­signed to help par­ents im­prove their child­care skills and raise aware­ness of the sup­port ser­vices avail­able in the parish.

Around 20 thank­ful moth­ers participated in the sem­i­nar, which took place at the Annotto Bay Hos­pi­tal and ex­plored is­sues such drug abuse and how chil­dren are af­fected when par­ents sep­a­rate or di­vorce.

Ac­cord­ing to men­tal health of­fi­cer Hy­acinth Sa­muels, the par­ent­ing work­shop, which ran un­der the theme: Be­come an Ex­cep­tional Par­ent, Stay Con­nected’ was unique as peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas rarely have ac­cess to such pro­gres­sive re­sources.

She told The Gleaner: “Con­tin­u­ously in the news, you hear about bad par­ents who aren’t do­ing enough, but no­body is ac­tu­ally do­ing any­thing to help them. So we de­cided to put to­gether a half-day work­shop to re­ward the par­ents of some of our clients and to en­cour­age them to keep com­ing and car­ing.

“We re­warded each of them with a cer­tifi­cate, and at the end one par­ent came and gave me a hug. She said: ‘I’ve never had a cer­tifi­cate in my life.’All this is so that we can stop beat­ing up on par­ents a lit­tle bit and be more en­cour­ag­ing.

“Events like this are re­ally im­por­tant, es­pe­cially for peo­ple in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties be­cause they do seem to get left out. In a nut­shell, they’re for­got­ten be­cause they’re in the coun­try, but the peo­ple in the coun­try need just as much help as those in the towns, which is why we de­cided to have the work­shop here.”

FAR-REACH­ING BEN­E­FITS

Sa­muels be­lieves the ben­e­fits of host­ing a par­ent­ing work­shop out­side of the Cor­po­rate Area are far­reach­ing and multi-lay­ered. She ex­plained: “For one thing, ses­sions like this make life less stress­ful for the child and par­ent. It can also lead to bet­ter re­la­tion­ships be­cause even though Mother might not like Fa­ther, if he likes his child, she is now more likely to let them have a re­la­tion­ship.

“We also spoke about mar­i­juana, which is com­mon, but we don’t see the need to ed­u­cate our chil­dren, which can be con­fus­ing. Daddy smokes, but will lick down his son if he sees him with a spliff in his mouth. These is­sues re­ally needed to be aired be­cause at the end of the day, we get less de­pressed and ag­i­tated par­ents, hap­pier chil­dren, bet­ter school re­sults, and the coun­try ben­e­fits all round.”

Look­ing ahead, Sa­muels plans to host sim­i­lar events in the future, and hopes that over time, more par­ents will un­der­stand the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing a bal­anced re­la­tion­ship with their chil­dren.

She said: “If all a par­ent gets out of this is that, they start to see their child as a special in­di­vid­ual, and they go home and say:’I’m sorry for what I’ve been call­ing you, I didn’t mean it, Mommy re­ally loves you.’ We’re happy be­cause a lot of our chil­dren have low self­es­teem and never hear any­thing good about them­selves.”

Ses­sions like this make life less stress­ful for the child and par­ent. It can also lead to bet­ter re­la­tion­ships be­cause even though Mother might not like Fa­ther, if he likes his child, she is now more likely to let them have a re­la­tion­ship.

CONTRIBUTED

Men­tal health of­fi­cer Hy­acinth Sa­muels.

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