Every Encounter Matters

November 12, 2018

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By Grace Ong

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a proverb which essentially highlights how every member of society and the community should play a part in contributing to how a child is brought up.  In our line of work, many opportunities arise where we might influence how a child is brought up in their family.  One of these ways is through supervising Access sessions.

Access, as the word suggests, is an allocated time where children, who have been displaced from their families, meet and have contact with their parents and family members, while under supervision. These children are usually displaced due to their parents’ inability to provide them with adequate care and supervi-sion, perhaps due to incarceration, abuse, or mental illnesses.  As professionals, we provide a safe environment for the interactions and activities between parents and their children.  We also provide feedback and guidance where necessary.

All families are different, with different stories to tell.  However, one thing remains consistent across these families that we see – all parents look forward to seeing their children and having their children reintegrated into their families. However, the journey of reintegration takes much time, effort and commitment.

More often than not, parents of these children have their own struggles, such as financial difficulties, marital conflict, or just a lack of experience and knowledge in parenting; perhaps due to their own upbringing.  Hence, although they do their best and look forward to bringing up their own children, they are sometimes unable to break through the hurdles they face.

Take the example of a single-mother who had to balance between working hard for her family and taking care of her two daughters; or the couple who frequently engaged in quarrels due to financial difficulties, and eventually took their frustration out on their 4-year-old child.  In the initial sessions, these parents all presented with difficulties in managing and communicating with their children in positive ways.  Yet, in their desire to have their children reintegrated into their family, they opened themselves up to receiving feedback and guidance from professionals.  Eventually, they were able to practice more positive parenting methods and increase their confidence in caring for and managing their children.

Each of these families made progress in interacting with their children.  Each encounter mattered – in reminding the children that their parents love them; in reminding the parents that their children need and value them; and in reminding families that their hope of reunification was slowly becoming fulfilled with every moment of time and effort they invested.

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The important work of Epworth Community Services is funded primarily by generous well- wishers who strongly believe in our cause.

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