One Family’s Story
Strengthening Families (Fortaleciendo Familias) is a program that involves the working with the whole family once a week for 10 weeks. Parents and children do activities and learn relationship skills both separately and together each week. For parents José and Jenny, with their five children, Anabel (age 15), Alan (age 14), Anthony (age 12), Arely (age 10), and Amaya (age 5), Strengthening Families was a life-changing experience.
Their family history had not given them a model or guidance to build good relationships with children, and the children have experienced physical, psychological, and emotional difficulties, especially as they entered the teen years.
They learned appropriate ways to interact positively with their children, praising good behavior, giving them more attention, active listening, eliminating destructive criticism and sarcasm, and fostering positive family communication.
The children said that the classes helped them understand their parents more, appreciating how much effort it takes for their parents to work in their laborious jobs to support the family. They learned strategies to organize themselves and understand the effective discipline skills their parents want to implement. The children felt that they were heard when they expressed to their parents their needs to be understood, valued and loved, and to receive affection.
The family history, especially the mother’s, was without affection. Jenny was never shown affection as a child, and did not know how to show affection to her children. She was deeply affected by the activities that had the family practicing affection in the class.
By the end of the program, the family was experiencing positive communication for the first time—chatting, reflecting, identifying feelings, and discussing strategies for conflict resolution, including improving relationships with peers and teachers.
SKCE staff will continue mentoring the family and involving them in future programs and support groups. Change takes time and the journey is best accomplished with others alongside in the same ride.