Parent Perspective: It Takes a Village to Support a Parent

January 6, 2023

Submitted by Green Chimneys Parent Cathy P. 

The decision to enroll your child in a residential program is a difficult one, to say the least. It comes with anticipations, worries, stress, and even some potential regrets. My son, Luis, was not attending school and was withdrawing from other aspects of life. As a mom, I felt sorry for him; the pain he was going through was palpable. And I know the pain and anguish that this situation was causing our family—it was almost impossible to function, go to work, and support the household—but the pain I was feeling was only a fraction of what my son was experiencing. We needed solutions.

Through our journey at Green Chimneys, we have experienced hope. Our journey is paved with twists and turns, dos and don’ts, and fallbacks and gains. I’m willing to guess it’s a journey taken by most every parent of a special needs child.

The proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’m going to go even further in saying that it takes a village to support a parent. I have found support and help through the parent training and support groups that are run by Green Chimneys each month. The more time I spend attending these training sessions and group meetings, the more I understand how important it is for me to spend time with other parents who are experiencing the same challenges. I get to share issues, frustrations, and even wins in a respectful forum where I feel heard. The sessions provide insight into reasons why my son may act or behave a certain way and how I can respond appropriately to minimize escalation or potential problems.

Professionalism, courtesy, empathy, and validation are words that come to mind when I think of my experience participating in these forums. I appreciate the staff for their time and dedication in helping parents to be more informed and better equipped in attending to their children.

Something else that I’ve learned along the way: during a support group meeting, one of the more experienced parents spoke of the importance of change. It wasn’t the type of change I had been praying for or hoping to accomplish; it was the type of change I would have to adopt for myself.

It made me think that if I expected my son to grow and change then I would have to be willing to do the same. I would have to make the time to be consistent in attending the parent training and support groups. Trusting relationships with Luis’ team would be paramount in helping him to succeed. Relationships and boundaries on campus and at home would require planning and follow-through.

I keep trying to be a better parent so I can help my child experience success. I thank that parent for her words of wisdom; they fell on hearing ears. Thank you Green Chimneys for the continued support and opportunities to practice better parenting. It does take a village.

In conjunction with our accredited special education program, Green Chimneys offers residential treatment for children with social, emotional, learning, and behavioral challenges. With comprehensive dorm facilities that accommodate 102 children, our inclusive living units are based on age, social and emotional development, and target behaviors. Helping children succeed in class, in the dorms, and on the farm are all components of our nature-based approach the therapeutic education and residential treatment. Learn more