You Strengthen my Family, I'll Strengthen Yours

At first glance, Esmeralda Huerta seems like a typical 30-something Californian. When you first meet her, you are struck by her quiet confidence. She is beautiful, but unassuming. Reserved, but flashes a wide smile that lights up the room. Esmeralda lives in the greater Sacramento area with her husband and preteen son. She enjoys reading, drinking coffee, and playing board games. She spends time volunteering at church, and never gets tired of watching old Friends reruns. But, there is so much more to Esmeralda. Peek with me into Esmeralda’s life for a moment to see just a glimpse of her fascinating story.



Esmeralda’s life has not been without challenges. For instance, she had the unique experience of growing up as a first-generation American Latina. She also spent several years parenting her young son alone as a single mother. Currently working at a local hospital as a Violence Intervention Specialist, she does follow up care for youth and young adults who have survived violent assaults, including stabbings and shootings. That quiet confidence she displays suddenly makes sense as you imagine the calming effect she must have on children who are recovering from violent attacks. 



Several years ago, when Esmeralda was a single mother to her then-toddler age son, she heard about an opportunity to take a local parenting class called Strengthening Families. She had heard that every family, regardless of its origin, history, or makeup, could benefit from these classes. Esmeralda felt that as her son’s solo parent, she had an even higher responsibility to learn all she could about how to make their family healthy and strong. Even though she found herself in an incredibly busy time of her life, her deep desire to make her son’s childhood sweet and memorable outweighed her desire to take it easy and she committed to faithfully attending the 11-week class.



Esmeralda enjoyed taking the Strengthening Families class. She met and got to know other families, practicing new skills with them during class time. Esmeralda’s family coach checked in with her after every lesson to answer questions and ask how things were going. This personal touch was very special to Esmeralda as a single mom - someone was interested and cared about her little family’s day-to-day experience!



One of the things Esmeralda gleaned from the Strengthening Families classes that changed her family's life for the better was the practice of “my time,” 15 minutes a day of child-led activity meant to promote bonding. She also began instituting family meals, including purposefully asking questions at the table about each of their days. These small changes she made when her son was little have continued until today - and now, even with a preteen in the house, she and her son still enjoy cellphone-free, positive meals with each other. When her husband came into their lives, he joined the fun!



Growing up a first generation Latina in America, Esmeralda rarely saw opportunities for Spanish-speaking families to learn new tools as a family. Because of her success in improving her own family’s life, she made it her goal to somehow give back to her community. When Esmeralda heard that Delta Prevention, a local drug and alcohol prevention organization, was looking for a Spanish-speaking family coach to lead Strengthening Families classes, she knew it was a position she was meant to take. 



Esmeralda thoroughly enjoyed leading other families through the same material that had enriched her life so greatly. One of the Strengthening Families’ lessons was centered upon the effect of drug and alcohol use among minors. Underage drinking can be a hot-button issue for Latino families because many of their countries of origin have younger legal ages for drinking. During this particular class, scientific data was presented which clearly demonstrated the harm of alcohol to the brains of developing children. This information was startling to the parents, but many knew from experience that drinking at younger ages was not the most healthy activity, even if it had been legal. That evening, many parents and children made promises to each other, signing declarations not to abuse alcohol or drink before the legal age.



Esmeralda encourages families to take advantage of local Strengthening Families classes which continue to be offered in the Greater Sacramento area. “Whether you are a strong family unit, a single-parent home, or if your family is falling apart, this program is designed to give you new tools and skills to strengthen your family. Family is worth fighting for and committing to this program is a small sacrifice to pay in return for a healthier home.” Esmeralda has always believed that there are many social benefits to our communities when family units are strong. Her experience first taking classes and then facilitating classes with Delta Prevention helped her family not only grow stronger, but flourish. 




Strengthening Families Graduates another round!

On December 18th the Delta Prevention team graduated yet another round of families in the SFP curriculum. What is SFP and Who needs it? According to the developer:

The Strengthening Families Program (SPF) developed by Dr. Karol Kumpfer at the University of Utah is a highly structured evidence-based, internationally recognized parenting and youth life-skills training program which parents and children ages 6-17 attend together.

SFP is a set of skills for all families – SFP 7-17 emphasizes the parenting skills of Bonding, setting Boundaries, and Monitoring, and is designed for all parents who need to improve family relationships and develop a family prevention program to keep their kids safe from alcohol and drug use.

If you (or someone you know) could benefit from SFP connect with us today!

Congratulations Graduates!

On May 15th, cheered on by a dozen facilitators and volunteers, almost 75 Parents and their children graduated the Strengthening Families Program (SFP!)

A little about SFP...Strengthening Families emphasizes the parenting skills of Bonding, setting Boundaries, and Monitoring, and is designed for all parents who want to improve family relationships and develop family prevention strategies to keep their kids safe from alcohol and drug use as well as many other behavioral health decisions kids make BEFORE THEY MAKE THEM! Families who attend Strengthening Families have increased family strengths and resilience and reduced risk factors for problem behaviors including behavioral problems, emotional, academic and social problems. SFP builds on protective factors by improving family relationships, parenting skills, youth's social and life skills.

Delta Prevention would like to thank our donors for believing in both the power of family as well as the power of prevention! We also thank our friend, and partner, Twin Rivers School District who believes in the wellbeing of the families they serve! And finally, thank you to the INCREDIBLE volunteers who poured out from your hearts and with that, changed lives. You are amazing!

If you are a family who would like to join our next class or you would just like more information, please contact us on the sign-up page!

My 10 Minutes of Free Parenting Advice Angela Da Re

Last week I was asked to speak at a community event on parenting and prevention. I had 10 minutes to give parents all the wisdom I could on how to keep our kids healthy and drug free….. A tall order, but in all my years of prevention there are a few universal truths that we just keep coming back to and I thought I’d share them here…..

Relationships, relationships, relationships

The primary influencer in our kid’s life is us. Yup, even in their teens (shocking, right?) but it’s true. Certainly, as they get older their friends play a role (some argue a strong role) but as they age (even well into their adult years) they make major life decisions based on how their parents raised them. But forming and maintaining relationships takes work and believe it or not… the MOST important relationship you have is with their other parent! A strong, loving communicative relationship with the other parent gives kids the stability they need to thrive. That means that we can’t take shortcuts, we must work at all the relationships in our lives AT THE SAME TIME. PLUS, it means that we adjust over time to their emerging personalities while we continuously hang on to the second big truth…

Kids need rules

Phew, there I said it. And it’s true. Our kids need a set of family rules that doesn’t change… you know… the biggies like No cheating, lying, be kind to one another etc. but those “look” different as kids get older and they and we must apply them to the life circumstances we’re in at the time. So, we’re careful to make sure that we’re not too harsh OR too lenient and sometimes we let natural consequences do our job for us.

They’re gonna do what we’re gonna do

“Do as I say, not as I do” never worked for anyone. To raise healthy kids who make good decisions throughout their lives we must model good decisions. One of the things that parenting does is it tends to magnify who we are. If we were a little impatient before kids we’re REALLY impatient after kids. If we were a little grouchy before…well, you get the picture. Parenting is an excellent opportunity to take a look at who WE are and make some of those lifetime adjustments that we’ve been meaning to make…and don’t be afraid to say you’re working on it if you are… most of the time in a lack of information, kids draw their own conclusions, which is why it’s so important to…

COMMUNICATE!

Communication is an ongoing deal. We must make time to talk about the little things, the big things and all the in-between things. Strangely, our kids think we’re experts on a wide variety of topics such as drugs, sex and fashion (well, maybe not fashion). Unfortunately, they don’t think we’re communicating about the important stuff even if we do! SO, what do we do? Here are my top 3…..

·Spend WAY more time telling them (and showing them) that you love them so they’re confident in your love and acceptance. Don’t know how? Try this… http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

· Know what you believe so you can tell them. Sorry, you’re not an expert (well maybe in fashion) I’m a prevention expert and I only scratch the surface of information… What you ARE an expert in is your family, your values and your dreams for their future. Spend some time thinking about that and a few minutes getting yourself educated about the things you don’t know then you’ll be in a position to talk when the time is right. Here is where I would start… http://www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/ and that leads me to number 3…

The time is always right. We must get so comfortable in communication with our kids that we can talk about anything they want or need to talk about.

So that’s it, my 10 minutes on what I would want every parent to know. Oh! I forgot the most important thing… YOU ARE THE BEST PARENT FOR YOUR CHILD, YOU ARE CAPABLE AND QUALIFIED. Now let’s go out there and get this thing done!