"What I experienced and went through as a child, I don't want that for my kids," says Kim, 29, a recent graduate of the Incredible Years program.
Kim's own childhood was difficult—she was raised by relatives where she experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and she did not have a positive relationship with her mother, who was a victim of abuse herself.
Now the mother of two daughters, 7 and 1 ½, Kim has a clear goal. "I rate myself as being a good mother, but there's nothing like being the best mother."
She also faces significant challenges.
"I'm dealing with being a single parent, raising kids on my own, and living with my mental illness," says Kim.
Additionally, her older daughter was deliberately burned with acid by an aunt when she was a toddler, traumatizing child and mother.
"I didn't receive any help or counseling for that, so basically I was dealing with all those issues by myself," Kim explains, adding that she has recently benefitted from partnering with a mental health provider.
Parenting was a major challenge, however, as stress led to anger and struggles to work positively with her children.
That's where the Incredible Years program comes in.
"Everything about the Incredible Years program is wonderful to me," says Kim, adding that she jumped at the opportunity to participate in the program when it was offered at the transitional housing facility where she was living.
The Incredible Years program develops parenting skills, particularly how to interact positively with children and how to manage stress.
Kim says the strength of the program is that it provides real-world solutions to parenting challenges: how to deal with children who are fighting, how to provide positive reinforcement instead of criticism, and how, as a parent, to know when to step away and regroup when stress takes its toll.
In the Incredible Years program, Kim also learned to track and reward her older daughter's good behavior through stickers on a calendar. A lot of stickers in a week earns her daughter a coveted certificate. The system has worked so well that her daughter now independently emulates at it school, using smiley faces or "oops" on a calendar she made to track her behavior.
Before the Incredible Years, Kim says, "Family was real stressful for me. Since I went through the program, it's less stressful now. I would say before I started the program, I was at a 5, which is very stressful. Now, I'm at like a 2."
The combination of parenting support and ongoing mental health case management has Kim envisioning a bright future. She recently completed her GED, is pursuing nursing classes, and will soon be moving out of transitional housing into her own apartment with her daughters.
She knows she's come a long way.
"I thank God for all I've been through because it has made me a stronger person today and it has helped me become a better person and parent to my kids."
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