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Helping young mothers to find their feet

As any parent knows, looking after young kids can be tough, even for those with support from family and friends. For those without a good support system, it can be downright daunting.

For 25-year-old *Teigan, who has two children under three, a partner who is often away working and no family nearby, it began to be too much.

Between sleepless nights and exhausting days, Teigan was overwhelmed. The kids needed car seats. Around the house, Teigan saw wall sockets that little fingers could reach and furniture that could topple over onto an exploring toddler. She wanted to do better for her children, but she didn’t know where to start.

Teigan shared her worries with her Maternal Child and Health nurse. They referred her to MacKillop Family Services’ Cradle to Kinder program and, as Teigan herself says,

“Cradle to Kinder has been a lifeline for me. Our MacKillop family worker comes to visit us in our home and as well as giving me emotional support, she sees where we need help on a practical level.

I hadn’t really thought about parenting styles before I became involved with Cradle to Kinder but now I think about how my kids’ experiences when they are young will influence how they think and act when they grow up.

– Teigan

Through the Cradle to Kinder program, MacKillop offers early parenting support to vulnerable young mothers and their children, from pregnancy until the child is four years old (when kindergarten begins).

Recounting her accomplishments with her MacKillop case worker, Teigan says:

“Together, we have ‘child proofed’ the kitchen and organised car seats for the kids. It’s great because the kids get a chance to play with someone else while I am still around and I can pick up some new parenting skills. It also allows me to catch up on the washing or tidying up while she is playing with the kids!”

Cradle to Kinder builds positive parent-child relationships and gives young families the skills and support necessary to raise children in healthy, loving environments.

Teigan is from the New Zealand Maori community and her partner is Aboriginal. We helped Teigan find an Aboriginal playgroup where her kids are learning about their Aboriginal culture.

“It has been a great learning experience for me as well. I’m very proud of my Indigenous New Zealand background and I want the kids to be proud of their heritage and be connected to their community.”

Talking with her MacKillop family worker has helped Teigan consider how she wants to parent:

“I think about parenting as a circle of security. I am my kids’ safe and secure base where they know I am always there for them when they need me.

“I’m learning how to encourage them to safely explore the world around them, knowing that I am the safe and secure place for them to return to.

“Being a parent is a big responsibility, but with the help of Cradle to Kinder, I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore and I wouldn’t be where I am now without their support.”

*Name changed to protect identity