This weekend many of us will recognize our mothers, grandmothers and daughters by giving flowers, writing cards or taking over the household responsibilities for the day. We do it because we want to let them know that they are appreciated. But mothers need support the other 364 days a year, too.
My first child was born on the other side of the world – thousands of miles away from my family and friends – in a country where I didn’t speak the language, so I know what it’s like to feel socially isolated and overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a parent. Everyone wants to be the best mother possible, but with little support it can feel like an insurmountable responsibility.
At SAFEchild, we know that every mother wants – and deserves – to be given the support she needs to navigate the challenges and joys of being a parent and create a nurturing environment free from abuse and neglect. We also know that because of external pressures, or because of how they were raised, or because they lack certain skills, many mothers fall short of their expectations. Sadly, sometimes the consequences endanger their children.
Abuse or neglect happens in every neighborhood to mothers of every color, creed, education level and income. Thousands of cases of child abuse are reported in Wake County every year. SAFEchild works to eliminate abuse by helping families learn how to create a nurturing environment.
Most families are capable of creating safe and loving homes given the right support, information and community resources.
All parents, at one time or another, need to seek support and ask for help. A stigma exists that asking for help means that a mom or dad is not a good parent. Asking for help doesn’t mean someone is not a good parent. In fact, it is a sign of strength. Both moms and dads need to speak up and reverse the dangerous stigma associated with asking for help.
In turn, SAFEchild needs our community to stand with us. To reduce child abuse in Wake County, financial and volunteer support is vital.
Together, we can eliminate abuse and neglect and make Wake County safer for all children.
Marjorie Menestres has served as SAFEchild’s executive director since 1993.