From fear and uncertainty to parenting with confidence
At 22, Jacinta found herself in a difficult place: pregnant and facing life as a single mother.
With no family support and no friends with children to lean on for help, the Bendigo mum remembers that time as one of fear and uncertainty over what the future held.
Thankfully, salvation came in the form of a MacKillop Family Services leaflet detailing a program aimed at young mothers who were expecting, or just given birth to their baby. And at 30 weeks pregnant, it was the lifeline Jacinta had been looking for.
“I started attending the group just after my son, Brody, was born,” she recalled. “Suddenly I wasn’t alone. There were other mums like me, most without partners, and we became a great support to each other.”
Positive parenting support during a child’s early years can have a significant impact on their physical and mental development. Research shows that sensitive, responsive care in the early months also increases behavioural and emotional adjustment later in life. However, a parent’s ability to provide this can often be impacted by issues like poor physical and mental health, intellectual disability, poverty, insecure housing, family violence or alcohol and other drug misuse.
It was that support that Jacinta agrees increased her confidence and parenting skills.
“I learnt so much from being a part of an early parenting group and I know the knowledge I gained will help my son reach his full potential,” she said, adding that without access to such a program, her son would not be as well looked after as he is, nor would she be as confident in her parenting skills.
MacKillop offers parenting support to young families through its newly launched Cradle to Kinder program. Delivered in partnership with Mercy Health, Bendigo Community Health Services, CatholicCare Sandhurst and Gateway Health, Cradle to Kinder targets young families experiencing difficult personal, family or social issues and places them with a dedicated support team, who assist them to access parenting, childcare, educational and social services.