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Skills for better parenting taught by Isaiah 43

 
Stress. We all experience it. What about the stress that moms deal with?
 
On the final evening of an eight-week Isaiah 43 parenting workshop held at St. Rita School in New Orleans, the topic of discussion was stress management and self-care.
 
 Too often, moms forget to take the time to properly care for themselves, and that results in diminished parenting skills, said Isaiah 43 program director Kristina Gibson and Daughter of Charity Sister Salvatrice Murphy, the program coordinator.
 
“You can’t afford the time not to take care of yourself,” Sister Salvatrice told the moms and grandparents, who gathered while their children were in free childcare next door. “Not taking care of yourself steals health and energy and judgment. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of them.”

Program is tailored to needs
Isaiah 43 is a program of Catholic Charities that helps with parenting and mentoring skills. What’s great about the ministry is that it can be adapted to meet the needs of each location, as it was with the parenting class at St. Rita, targeting preschool parents to create a strong parenting foundation at a young age, Gibson said. Parenting classes also are ongoing at St. Gabriel the Archangel and St. Peter Claver and in the works at St. Paul the Apostle.
 
“We provide flexibility so the parents and schools can determine what works best,” Gibson said.
 
Throughout the recent workshop, parents of pre-K4 students bonded and shared their parenting experiences while discussing: the purpose of parenting, active communication, styles of parenting, how to build cooperation and a spirit of forgiveness, effective non-violent discipline and the power of encouragement.
 
Gibson said the Active Parenting method is used with a spiritual element added by the Catholic Charities ministry.
 
Michelle Perique, grandmother to Serenity Perique, mentioned how her granddaughter has progressed since the beginning of the school year. She rewards her granddaughter for positive behavior.
 
“My kids were different than these kids today, and what worked for them probably won’t work for these kids,” Perique said. “I’ve learned so much and am thankful for these ladies (involved with Isaiah 43) for coming here and doing what they are doing. There should be a line around the block to take these classes.”

Stress-relieving touch
During the discussion of stress and self-care, soft music played in the background, and the scent of lavender permeated the room. Moms took turns enjoying a massage by Sister Monica Gundler, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, a massage therapist. Breathing technique, relaxation tips to reduce stress and better eating pointers were presented.
 
“The less agitated you get, the less agitated they will be,” Sister Salvatrice said, adding other relaxation tips such as calming music, dimming lights, talking in calm tones.
 
The women seemed to gain much from the series of classes and expressed interest in follow-up classes.
 
“I am always open to opportunities to be a better parent to my child,” Tranese Washington, mom of two sons – pre-K4 student Dillan Washington and 9-year-old Percy Washington III – with twins on the way. “I learned how to be patient and get my kids involved. I was more of a dictator parent before, and now I am more of an active parent.”
 
Volunteers from the parish, several religious communities (including the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Daughters of Charity), St. Mary’s Dominican High School students and others made the program run smoothly at St. Rita. Dinner, snacks, refreshments and childcare were provided weekly.
 
Volunteer Trudy Burkart, a Methodist, read about the program and decided she wanted to learn how to contribute to building a positive parenting culture. She took the eight weeks of classes and will train to become a program facilitator.
 
“I know there is a need for this,” said Burkart, a former volunteer at a battered women’s shelter and grandmother of two. “It’s a matter of communications skills – what we say to each other and what we say to children and how we respond to them.”
 
Cyntrell McGee, mother of 5-year-old Alayah Weatherspoon, said she learned how to manage anger better.
 
“I learned how to handle kids in different situations,” she said. “It has helped me a lot. I will definitely come next year because it gave me a different outlook on how to parent and raise a child.”
 
Isaiah 43 also has a mentoring program that targets youth, ages 10-18, by connecting them with a caring role model. Kristina Gibson can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 310-8772; or visit www.isaiah43.org.
 
Isaiah 43 co-sponsors the “Freedom to Shape Our Reality” Youth Peace Summit starting July 1 at 1 p.m., and basketball tournament July 2, 1 p.m., Loyola University. Events are open to those ages 16-25. Call 310-8772.
 
Christine Bordelon can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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