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by Jamie Wiener, Executive Director

You and your partner meet, you have a fabulous courtship full of adventures, you decide to get married, you have kids, and then things change. These adorable little humans, who have the power to make adults babble and say nonsense words and make a heart really feel love, often hate sleep, constantly cry, and turn your world upside down.

Maybe you and your child’s story began a little differently and you met your partner in English Lit class and you became a new parent at 15 ‒ while still attending high school, trying to navigate high school relationships, being a teenager, and dreaming of college. Maybe you had to add, “find a babysitter,” to your to-do list before football games or prom.

There are a few things not often discussed during dating, like who is going to change the dirty diapers at 2 a.m.? Or, who is going to make the bottle when you both barely have enough energy to hold your eyelids open?

I have yet to see a Match.com profile touting “I am always going to be the fun parent and you get to be the bad guy” or “I struggle with setting parental boundaries” or “Co-parenting is my jam!” Being in a relationship can be challenging enough, but when you add a child (or more) to the mix, things can get complicated.

Parenting is TOUGH, and certain factors like age, socioeconomic status, education, environment, and support networks can make it even more challenging.

At the Children and Family Resource Center, we believe that the parent is a child’s first teacher. Parents are laying the groundwork for all future successes and what happens in the first few years can have lasting effects on a child’s life. We know that while a healthy interaction in a young child’s life wields great power, the opposite is also true, and the effects of trauma can be long-lasting. These long-lasting negative effects go beyond kindergarten readiness, beyond EOG’s, and beyond high school graduation.

When a child witnesses a traumatic event like violence in the home, sexual abuse, or the loss of a parent, this can affect daily decision making for the long-term and its impact could be subtle or outright destructive.

The programs offered at the Children & Family Resource Center are evidence-based and focused on prevention. Our educators are working with families to offer support and develop parenting skills aimed at preventing child abuse before it starts and helping families create their own successes, so the future is bright for both parent and child. We offer opportunities for all the adults in child’s life to participate in conversations together and hear what the parent educator or licensed therapist shares about parenting topics. We offer child care and a meal at our evening parenting programs so finding someone to watch the babies and navigating dinner on a school night are not barriers.

Our 14-week Incredible Years parenting series is open to parents or any caregiver in a child’s life so everyone who is interacting with the child can share common language when setting boundaries or reinforcing positive behaviors. Our Circle of Parents support group provides an opportunity for all the people involved in a child’s life to share on topics ranging from potty training to co-parenting alongside other parents who may be working through similar challenges. Parents can hear practical ways to work together to support the children in the home.

In this modern world, dating and courtship look vastly different than it did 20 years ago. Relationships and parenting do too. No one knows ahead of time if they will get to be the “fun” parent or if they will have to navigate dating while raising children.

One thing is certain though- we can’t do this alone. The Children & Family Resource Center, and the 13 programs we offer, is here to be that support for families and children.