St Mary parents 'stay connected'
ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary:
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."
Samuels believes the benefits of hosting a parenting workshop outside of the Corporate Area are far-reaching 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 self-esteem and never hear anything good about themselves."