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Parenting tips for young mums

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Parenting your child can be hard work – but perhaps even harder when you are technically still a child yourself. However, teenage mums attending St Joseph’s Education Centre in Enfield are gaining some valuable tools and tips through a series of parenting workshops being held at the school.

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Run as part of the Department of Human Services’ Parenting and Family Support program, the weekly workshops are covering a range of topics and issues tailored to meet the needs of the young mums, aged 14-20 years.

During the 90-minute sessions the young women are asked to reflect on ‘who they are’, discuss their different parenting styles, and are provided with a raft of practical information about babies and young children covering such things as developmental milestones, child safety and sleep habits.

Presenters Carol Toole and Leonie Davey told The Southern Cross that St Joseph’s was one of two schools in the northern suburbs chosen to run the pilot workshops and said the course content was continually adapted to meet the needs of the students attending.

“There is no ‘one size fits all approach’ to parenting. Families come in all different shapes and sizes,” Leonie said.

“We’re here helping them to understand their parenting styles and what influences those styles… how they make conscious choices every day that will impact how they parent.”

Established in 2010, St Joseph’s supports teenagers (although sometimes younger or older girls attend) who unexpectedly find themselves pregnant but want to continue with their education. Many have been out of the school system for some time but they are welcomed back to study – together with their child – who is cared for by trained staff in the inhouse crèche.

A tailored, individual learning program is developed for each student, with the aim to provide the necessary support so they can complete their SACE.

The girls study in one large room and throughout the day they are able to pop into the crèche, which is set up in an adjacent room, checking on their child and tending to feeding as may be needed. Sometimes it’s just a matter of having a warm hug and spending some play time with their much-loved little one.

Leonie said she was “incredibly impressed and inspired” by the group of young mums who were attending the workshops.

“Society expects they are going to fail but they are rising in the face of adversity and doing a great job,” she said.

“It’s a big challenge to study when you are so young, while looking after a baby… but they are doing it with resilience and determination.

“The girls are blessed to have these opportunities – what a gift this centre is for them.”

Sarah Moody, coordinator at St Joseph’s said the workshops were just another valuable tool offered to the girls as they completed their education under “different circumstances”.

Taking a break from the workshop and joining their children in the crèche, Bel, Leah, Laura and Erica said they were very appreciative of being able to attend St Joseph’s and agreed there was “no way” they could juggle looking after their child and continue their studies without the support of the school.

They spoke of their strong commitment to their children and that by pursuing their education they were establishing a strong foundation for their future.

With her daughter Octavia on her lap, Laura said her aspirations to graduate this year and pursue a career in the world of forensic science would not have been possible without St Joseph’s.

Erica said having her son Edonnis looked after while she studied meant she was now considering either studying to become a vet or joining the police force when she finishes her SACE this year.

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