One of the families who recently attended Barnardos are Laura, 19, and her two children Aoife aged 1, and Charlie who is 3.
After becoming a mother at just 16, Laura was struggling with so many things. She didn’t have much free time to spend with her friends, and they didn’t seem to have much in common anymore. Living at home with her own parents was also tough. The house is small, and she felt like her parents didn’t think she was capable of being a good Mam to her children. She had also suffered abuse from the children’s father - causing her to have low moods and poor self-esteem. Although Laura had a warm, loving approach with her children and cared for all of their practical needs appropriately, she lacked any confidence in her parenting ability.
It was her GP who suggested she get in touch with Barnardos, to get some support around her parenting skills. At the start of her first parental wellbeing session, Laura was asked to rate herself on a well-being scale with 0 being the lowest she has ever felt and 10 being the best. She said that she was at a 3.
Her Barnardos project worker began by showing her breathing techniques, such as tensing up as she would around negative environments or people, then inhaling slowly and when exhaling, releasing all of the tension. Laura said this felt so relaxing and the project worker sent her a simple video to follow at home.
They also worked on a ‘vision board’, which represented the life Laura would like to have for herself and her children. In the first session, Laura’s board only had a couple of pictures on it. At the next session, she put more pictures on the board and explained why she had picked them.
One of the images showed a hairbrush and scissors, which represented her interest in hair styling. Laura said that she would love to do a course when the children were bigger. Another showed a family enjoying a picnic in a beautiful field full of bright, colourful flowers. The family were happy, laughing and smiling with each other.
After 5 weeks, Laura felt she was now at a 7 on the well-being scale. She said that she was able to pick herself up more easily when facing a setback now. She had treated herself to a fancy notebook where she could record positive experiences and things she was grateful for. At the next session, she spoke about she felt she was noticing more of her children’s development and the cute things they did. She was excited that Charlie was showing an interest in music, and little Aoife was looking likely to start walking soon. Laura attributed this change to her own outlook becoming more positive.
Laura is now engaging in Barnardos teen parenting support group and has told us how much she values the friendships she has built with other teen parents, who are going through similar experience to herself. She knows that she is doing the best job she can with her beautiful children, and is looking forward to a brighter future for herself, and for them.