Forty Carrots Family Center
Where Relationships Matter
Coming of Age
Like many young people, Marcel Gomez looked forward to high school graduation as a rite of passage…she was 18 and soon would make her own choices when it came to matters of heart and home.
Until an unplanned pregnancy brought Santiago into her life.
To finish school, she transferred to Cyesis, a program for
pregnant students, and was heartened to discover much more than academics. In one of their longest standing partnerships, Forty Carrots Family Center’s parenting educators have joined Cyesis teachers each week to provide young girls with the skills and encouragement they need to understand and appreciate the joys of parenthood.
“At first, I was very nervous…I didn’t know how to take care of a baby,” Marcella said. “But every week they came and taught me something new…how to hold a baby, how to feed them, how to play with them…”
And perhaps more importantly, she said, how to cope through the inevitable moments in parenting with things fall apart.
A Mother's Commitment
Mary is a 25 year old mom. Her child was in foster care because Mary had been an addict and wasn’t able to care for her. Mary was committed to kicking her addiction and learning how to be a parent without drugs. Every week for five weeks, Mary got on her bicycle at First Step on U.S. 301 where she was in a residential treatment, and rode to Forty Carrots on Tuttle Avenue to participate in parenting classes. It was winter time and every night she rode in the dark and one evening she even rode in the rain. She never missed a class and she was always on time. She said that she was going to learn how to be the parent her child deserved. She was a “star student” during that 5-week session. Not just because of her heroic story, but because she soaked in every word, participated in every discussion, and in the end, was ready to take what she had learned and apply all of her new skills and knowledge to be the parent she so desperately wanted to be – a good parent, a respectful parent, a loving parent.
A Dad Making A Change
Jeff is a dad who has three young children and works two jobs to make ends meet. He attended a series of free evening parenting classes that Forty Carrots offered in South County. His wife stayed home with the little ones so he could come to class. After two nights he told Forty Carrots staff that he had already changed how he was disciplining his kids. He knew he didn’t want to yell and scream at them the way his father had yelled at him but he didn’t know what else to do. Now he did and it was working!
A Teenager Learns A Lifesaving Lesson
David is a teenager. He’s 16. He’s also a father. He attended high school with his baby’s mother and their infant daughter. Together, this young family participated in weekly Forty Carrots parenting classes provided at their school. David was a pretty tough guy. He rarely participated in discussions and when he did, it was typically to contradict what others were saying. Until the day the discussion turned to shaken baby syndrome. Each parent was given an empty baby food jar and asked to crack an egg into their jar. They were asked to imagine that the egg was their baby’s brain and the jar their baby’s head. As the group experimented with a variety of motions with their “baby food jar babies” they began to see how even movements that baby’s enjoy – like rocking vigorously – could cause the “egg yolk brains” to change. Sometimes they changed shape. Sometimes the yolks broke completely apart. Sometimes nothing at all happened. But what got David’s attention that day was that there was no way to tell what motion would cause damage. Every egg-brain was unique. As David listened to the other teen parents talk about what they had learned about handling their infants, his face grew very stern. Suddenly, David shouted, “Stop…. You just saved my baby’s life! I never knew that you could hurt a baby’s brain if you handled them wrong. I will never, ever handle my baby rough anymore and I won’t let anyone else be rough with her either. You saved my baby’s life!”