Small places close to home
I was reminded of this powerful quote by the late, great educator Rita F Pierson when I attended the Association of Infant Mental Health (NI) conference in Belfast this week.
The conference focused on the impact of the conflict in Northern Ireland on the mental health and emotional well-being of our babies, those who lived through that trauma and those who live with it even now through trans-generational transmission.
Two presentations in particular left me reeling with admiration for the inspiring adults who delivered them.
The first of these was a personal testimony from a mother of five, now a Family Support Worker in her local community, whose own childhood was characterised by a devastating and seemingly inescapable cycle of humiliation, degradation, isolation, physical and sexual abuse. This woman is a survivor but, as we heard, she's much more than that. She's a 'thriver'! She has raised her own children very, very differently. She has trusted in and been rewarded with respectful relationships with others; personal, professional, therapeutic and legal. She saw her abuser jailed. She had never told her story before. Her closing words were those that gave the best insight into what this wonderful woman has achieved and into the most basic of all children's needs: "I wish I'd had a mummy like me." You won't be surprised that a standing ovation was offered in lieu of hugs from 150 delegates!
Dr. Áine McKenna briefed delegates on the 'Towards a Better Future' research which University of Ulster carried out on behalf of the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors. The full report can be accessed here.
Some of it makes difficult reading as you might imagine but Áine focused our minds - and our responsibilities - on turning risks into opportunities for children and their parents. A two-generation approach which is family centred and concerns itself with the relationships 'between' was advocated. Evidence-based parenting interventions which support a reduction in harsh parenting, an increase in effective limit-setting and self-regulation were appealed for. My mind turned, as well it might, to Incredible Years!
How timely then that this appeared in my inbox this morning. This study looks at the effectiveness of the Incredible Years parenting programme for families with socioeconomic disadvantage and ethnic minority backgrounds. It adds to the growing body of evidence which we all have responsibility to source, interrogate and learn from if we are to ensure that children of all ages experience a fulfilment of their rights and reach their full potential in "small places close to home".
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE INCREDIBLE YEARS COORDINATION PROJECT PLEASE CONTACT: Deirdre McAliskey - firstname.lastname@example.org - 028 9087 5006