A young couple, Steve and Patty, who are the parents of Dennis, a baby born four weeks premature, contacted Catholic Social Services’ Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption program, which receives funding from United Way of Broome County, for assistance in parenting following an incident involving alleged child abuse.
A Department of Social Services caseworker working with Steve and Patty encouraged them to enroll in both parenting and anger management classes. The couple enrolled in the STEP Early-Childhood (age 0 to 6 years) parenting classes, but to do so, Patty had to drop a class she was taking at Broome Community College and their daily schedules were dramatically rearranged.
They enrolled in the class, which is held at Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network’s PAL (Parents as Leaders) Resource Center, which also receives funds from United Way of Broome County, and took advantage of the collaboration PPA has with the PAL Center for child care. The couple attended all of the class sessions and often came early or stayed late, in order to obtain advice and feedback on Dennis’s development both from the course instructors and the PAL Center staff.
When ideas were suggested they immediately incorporated them into their parenting routines. For instance, Steve mastered techniques of swaddling and soothing Dennis when he became upset, and was proud to demonstrate these techniques to the other fathers in the class.
Following the class Steve and Patty asked to meet with a PPA social worker for relationship counseling. They acknowledged that they get frustrated with one another, especially under the stress they currently face. However, their commitment to one another and to Dennis was unwavering.
Through short-term counseling they identified that their communication preferences and decision making processes are quite opposite and that this may be a source of both strength and potential conflict for them as parents.
At last contact, Steve and Patty had developed strategies for coping with their stress and appeared to be well on their way to becoming re-established as an effective family. Steve admitted he has had to swallow his pride somewhat being a young and tough guy during this process. Moreover, he also generously shared his appreciation for what he has learned in the parenting class, including the one-to-one support and feedback from others and the counseling.
(Names and other information may have been changed to protect privacy.)