Elia Cardenas – Perinatal Services Specialist

I started working at the Young Women’s Resource Center in September of 2014. I believed that my job was to share my wisdom. There was a part of me that believed that I had the answer to their problems. Being a woman in my late 40’s and having been a mother for 15 years, I thought I knew everything. I GOT THIS!

I was wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no one issue or one solution to help these young mothers become better parents or become more successful. I have learned that some young ladies become mothers when they learn they are pregnant, some become mothers when they give birth, and some struggle to be good mothers.

The reality is that 50% of the young mothers have not been raised by their parents. They grew up being moved from family member to family member or in the foster care system. Some had different people in and out of their lives; some had a positive influence, but most of the people hurt them. Why are these young ladies having such a hard time making the right chooses? Well, no one did the right thing by them. How can they learn life skills if there was no one to teach them? What if the person who is raising you is on survival mode?

After seeing the big picture, I changed the way I was going to teach my young moms group. I started by motivating the young women to not only dream about a better future for them and their children, but to actually start planning that future. The five year plan included room for small steps to move forward. It helped them be ready to deal with setbacks but not let go of their plan.

The young moms have children from newborn to five years. The parenting classes consist on setting clear rules and having clear consequences when the rules are not followed.  They learn to never discipline their child when they are angry and to take time to calm down. The most important part of parenting class is to make sure the young mothers understand the importance of loving their children. This includes surrounding the children with positive role models and not allowing other people to emotionally, physically or sexually abuse them. It also includes giving them a head start in life by talking to them and reading to them. They learn that they need to finally to put themselves and their children first.

There is so much that is covered in the groups; this blog is not enough to cover it all. I see the potential these young mothers have, and I am truly impressed with their strength and dedication to their children. The truth is, I have learned so much from them. What a surprise – it seems I do not know everything. WHO KNEW?