In partnership with Great Start Georgia and the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Lutheran Services of Georgia provides parents in the Savannah area with an opportunity to grow their parenting skills.
Through the Healthy Families program, expectant parents and parents of children under the age of five receive weekly support and education sessions. Participants are often referred to Healthy Families if they have certain risk factors such as low income, are under the age of 21, unemployed, etc.,
During weekly in-home sessions, Family Support Workers help educate parents on appropriate child development as well as teaching them about developing a positive parent-child relationship, creating a safe and healthy home for children, and connecting to other community resources and support systems to ensure the family’s needs are met. These services are available at no cost to parents who are referred residing in Chatham or Liberty Counties.
As a teen mom, Caroline, along with her son Hunter, has benefited tremendously from her time in Healthy Families.
She enrolled in the program in October 2015, when she was in the very early stages of her pregnancy. Caroline gave birth to healthy baby boy on June 1, 2016. Caroline and Hunter remain enrolled in Healthy Families.
Q & a With Caroline
How do you think Healthy Families helped you be better prepared for having a baby and becoming a mother?
It helped to not be afraid that you mess up. It gives you confidence in yourself that you will be a good mom. It guides you in finding out the type of mom that you want to be.
What are the most helpful skills or information that you've learned through Healthy Families?
Most of all, without a doubt, I learned patience. I learned about self-sufficiency before he was born and even more after. I learned a lot about myself before he was born, and then after was more about putting what I learned into practice.
What advice would you give someone who was about pregnant and about to start Healthy Families? Any tips for getting the most out it?
My advice is to stick with it especially because it takes time to meet and make goals happen. It’s very enlightening about how much you can learn. You can get so many opinions and perspectives from different people about the same topic and having someone, someone you trust and who supports you, to bounce those perspectives off of helps a lot.
My tip is to PRACTICE what is discussed, especially if you want to see results. Also, always be open and honest. Don’t shy away from things because you are afraid or have no experience in it.
Was there anything that surprised you about having and caring for a baby? Was anything different than you expected?
Everything was different. It’s a surreal experience for me and some days it still feels like a dream. I know it’s real and happening but everything is moving so fast.
When I was pregnant, I knew everything. I got this, I know what to expect, I’m ready…at least I thought. Because once I had him, it was like OH MY GOD, what do I do, what is happening, who do I call. And those weekly session really helped.
What is the hardest thing about being a parent? What is the best thing about being a parent?
The best thing about being a parent is watching him grow and develop every day. It’s amazing how you can never repeat the same day because no two days are alike. It’s like a bitter sweet feeling because you don’t want them to grow but of course you do.
The hardest thing is not getting enough rest. Time management and balancing out your life with his life is challenging. To get a balance, however, it’s best to think about needs versus wants, yours and his, then prioritize.
Thank you Caroline for sharing your experiences with us!