Keeping mothers in mind

Parenting can be a steep learning curve, but for mothers who have experienced trauma and violence, the new experience of motherhood can be isolating.

Enter Mothers in Mind, an evidence-informed intervention program for women with young babies who have experienced family violence, child abuse, neglect, or assault. Administered by the Catholic Family Services of Hamilton, the 10-week parenting program at St. Martin’s Manor saw participation from 18 mothers and their children under the age of four. Supported by a grant from the HCF, the program was also offered to young parents and children in the community. Beyond positive parenting, the Mothers in Mind program is designed to enhance parents’ self-confidence by offering a conducive environment for young mums to share parenting challenges and obtain advice. Reduced stress, isolation and uncertainty were among the outcomes of Mothers in Mind. Program facilitators also observed that the young parent participants demonstrated increased sensitivity to the socio-emotional needs of their children.

Beginning with the community in mind, the program also saw participation from community partners, including Public Health, the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton and Alternatives for Youth. Mothers in Mind encouraged young parents to think positively about themselves as mothers, as one participant remarked.

“They taught me to tear down the barriers between my child and I, and to remember that my baby loves me just as much as I love her. They taught me that I am not perfect nor do I have to be, to be a good parent.”

The goal is to continue to run the program once per school year while maintaining the focus on the mother-child relationship to improve infant mental health outcomes. Partnerships with other community service providers will help further shape the program with young parents in mind.