“Finding time for myself was foolishness–an utterly unfamiliar, far-fetched idea!” said Sisay, a mother of one of our scholars at the closing ceremony of an intensive parenting course we held recently at our family life center.  “It never crossed my mind!” 

Her perspective caught my attention because my own mother rarely takes time for herself.  I yearn for the days when I’ll see my mom well-rested and content.

Over six straight Saturday sessions at the Weingartz Family Life Center, our parents learned that children take everything personally.  Seeing their parents stressed or upset may lead them to believe that they are not good enough, or perhaps that they are they are the cause of the problems.  This belief of inadequacy can rear its ugly head throughout their lives and pervade their relationships in their own families years later.

Parents participate in a small group discussion

This is why self-care is so important for parents.  Self-care can be dismissed as a self-indulgent concept when in fact it has everything to do with health and wellness.  Parenting is a full-time commitment, and when parents neglect their own physical, mental or emotional needs, their children will most likely be the ones to bear the stress of their burnout. 

The struggle to find a balance in life is even trickier for parents and caregivers of our scholars who are trying to make a living working in Kore, one of the largest garbage dumpsites in Africa.  One wouldn’t wonder why the concept of self-care is implausible for them. 

Since finishing the parental training, Sisay has been more intentional to do things each day that give her strength.  Over a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea each day, she takes a 15-minute break to sit by herself and collect her thoughts, and also tries to catch up with a loved one as regularly as possible.  She makes sure she takes her medication on time and aims to get a good night’s sleep.  These simple acts of tending to herself have rejuvenated her relationship with her children.

As counter-intuitive as it seemed, our parents came to see that one of the best gifts they can give to their children is to take care and be kind to themselves.  I pray that Sisay’s experience encourages you to do the same as you think about setting your own goals for the coming year.

Danny and his fiancée, Julissa

The powerful parents of Kore!

Selam Kahsay, Health & Wellness Specialist

Selam is a public health expert who is passionate about working with vulnerable communities, especially adolescents and young mothers.  Selam has worked as a consultant for non-profit local and International organizations based in the UK, the USA, and Ethiopia.  She leads trainings and workshops for scholars and families in Addis Ababa.

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