Childhood Lasts a Lifetime

Often we parent the way we were parented. When children are raised in a nurturing environment by supportive adults who care about them, they can grow up to be nurturing healthy adults who care about children. When children are raised in environments with toxic stress, and adverse childhood experiences it is harder to recognize and practice healthy parenting habits as adults.

According to Tufts University, “Positive experiences can ease toxic stress and help children and youth grow into more resilient, healthier adults.” The four building blocks of HOPE, or Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences are Relationships, Environments, Social and Civic Engagement and Emotional Growth.

Charles was raised in a home where he experienced regular physical abuse by a father who was an alcoholic. He ran away from home when he was a teenager and didn’t graduate high school. Charles learned how to rely on himself to survive. Doing so without a healthy family support system, Charles made some bad choices and ended up in prison. He wanted to break the cycle and do better. “…looking back I feel I have corrected a lot of mistakes I’ve made in the past.”

Charles came to Family Advocate’s Family Resiliency Course not knowing what to expect. He was used to being prejudged based on his time incarcerated. Through the course Charles found others who listened, supported, and validated his efforts to be a better parent than his parents were to him. He said he “learned healthy ways to address challenging behaviors with my own son.” Unlike the example modeled for him as a child that were toxic and unhealthy, Charles has made a commitment to model positive, healthy behaviors for his son.

Not only does Family Advocates provide parenting courses, but they support the families they serve with concrete resources, like diapers and wipes, to reduce stress and allow more time and energy for participants to build healthy relationships. Charles has worked diligently to improve his Relationship with his son while creating a safe and nurturing Environment for them to thrive as a family. He said he “actively utilizes the tools and advice to embrace change moving forward.” The Emotional Growth he has experienced has allowed his attitude and perspective to shift.  “Addressing behavior with love instead of time outs,” reflects Charles, “…communication is key to raising a healthy child.”

Charles gained hope through the Family Strengthening Education Program. “[I now feel I can] be persistent and optimistic in my parenting and with my cps case. I feel confident in the future.”

Our work at the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund (ICTF) promotes the building blocks of HOPE and the five Protective Factors which are: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, social and emotional competence of children, and concrete support in times of need. These Protective Factors and building blocks of HOPE promote optimal development so individuals and communities thrive.

A Family Advocates staff member said, “HOPE is one of the greatest gifts we can give to families. HOPE helps families bounce back stronger and more resilient.” If you would like to know more about programs and organizations founded in the Protective Factors and HOPE, or want to get involved, contact the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund.

*Family Advocates is an annual grant and Family Resource Center grant recipient