Hundreds of families in distress turn to SAFEchild every year to learn new ways to parent, discipline, and love. SAFEchild’s parenting programs focus on building self-esteem; teaching stress and anger management, communication skills, positive discipline techniques, child development, and reducing social isolation.
We are grateful for the financial and volunteer support, and the meeting spaces generously provided by the faith community, that allows SAFEchild to heal hearts through parenting programs.
Ginna Bustle, who works with parents through SAFEchild’s Nurturing Program (serving families with children ages 4-12) uses a powerful analogy with a wooden heart to illustrate the damaging lasting effects of physical and verbal abuse. She shows the parents in her class a wooden heart bearing holes from nails to illustrate the scars left from childhood abuse and or neglect.
“ I’ve found that most parents are ‘covering’ their hearts to protect themselves,” Ginna says. “They come to us with hearts filled with holes. And their children, even at young ages, have too many holes in their hearts.”
“When you stop to look at their behaviors as a heart issue, it is easier to have compassion.” she adds. “We help them see the value of making the decision to change so as to not inflict further wounds on their children’s hearts or on their own.”
SAFEchild offers a range of parenting classes, including but not limited to programs for families impacted by domestic violence and resources for Spanish-speaking families, all of which help parents reflect on their behavior in a safe and respectful way. Often this includes examining their childhoods and the experiences that led to a damaging cycle of abuse.
“It takes a lot of courage to look at the painful past,” says Ginna, “but it does empower them to realize they had little control of what happened to them as children, but now they are in charge and they can choose nurturing parenting practices. We help parents to have the courage to uncover their hearts just a bit.”