May brings Mother’s Day. June brings Father’s Day. Both months are filled with abundant family activities – weddings, graduations, the end of the school year, the beginning of summer. Among national recognitions at this time of year is National Foster Care Month in May. Here at SAY San Diego, we celebrate the essential value and importance of family every day, and affirm family as self-defined, composed of members who are significant to one another whether related by blood, legal bonds, or bonds of caring. It is, therefore joyful for us to step back at this time to celebrate the season of the family.
In our everyday work, family resilience, family well-being, and supporting families in the many complicated tasks of raising the next generation are a central focus. Several SAY San Diego programs are premised on the evidence and science of family strengthening, including Community Services for Families, Family Self Sufficiency, First 5 First Steps, Project KEEP, and multi-solution/multi-agency work conducted by SAY San Diego’s Crawford Community Connection, Military Family Resource Center, O’Farrell Family Support Services, and Serra Real Connections. All of these programs take into account that children do well when families do well, and families do well when they are connected to supportive communities and systems.
Why conduct family strengthening interventions? Recently someone asked me, “How can you teach parenting? Why would families listen? Do parents really change their approach…after all don’t we all just do what our parents did?” There’s a saying, often credited to an anonymous source, which fits here: “the problem with being a parent is that by the time you are experienced, you are usually unemployed!” Until the art of parenting comes with a full-proof operating manual that forecasts everything, family strengthening work helps to take the place of that operating manual. The practice honors the family, however defined, in the herculean mission of raising children – providing coaching, educational resources, counseling, services, connections and networks to enable each and every parent to be the best they can be.
We have found that parents rarely feel like they know everything they need to know, and welcome new resources and information. Some parents really struggle. Yet, parents want the very best for their children, even in the toughest of circumstances. There is also a science to parent coaching and family strengthening, and adherence to standards, which make a huge difference. If done well, family strengthening produces remarkable gains for everyone involved, especially children, including increased parental knowledge of child development, nutrition and health; greater overall good feeling and love expressed in the family; increased capacity to nurture and support children; as well as greater ability to endure hardships and bounce back. In addition, parents and families are less isolated and reach out for opportunities for themselves and their children, resulting in greater expression of children’s academic, creative, athletic, cognitive and social potential. Often these add up to children having better health, improved relationships, and stronger ability to achieve in school, work and future family life.
To learn more, please see SAY San Diego’s program listings. Enjoy the season with your family!