Dana became involved with Comas' Resilient Parent project because her children had been taken into care. Desperate to regain custody of her children, Dana realised that now at the age of 23, she was in danger of having her children repeat her own childhood experience.Dana had also been in care from an early age and had lost both parents by the time she was a teenager. She had never learned to trust or belong in a family, yet had her first child by the time she was 17. Dana was trying to escape from a disastrous relationship and dependency on drugs, in order to rebuild her life and re-establish her family. She felt she did not belong or share any positive identity with other parents: she carried the stigma of having been a child in care herself, and the stigma of having been judged unfit to be a parent to her own children. She has used the Resilient Parent coaching approach to consider what she wants to achieve. She is beginning to recognise her own intelligence and potential, and to have sufficient belief in these that she is willing to work hard on making changes in her life. From her initial presentation as a chaotic, confused and damaged young woman, this is huge progress on a long journey. She is working on developing her own career, she has been reunited with her children, and she has made friendships with other parents.
What is behind this success story?
Our Resilient Parent Project was a short term pilot project funded by the City of Edinburgh Council. In this piece of work, we were piloting a short-term programme for parents, using coaching to help them move past hurdles and learn problem-solving and self-management skills which would become a life resource for the parent and their family. In reality, parents like Dana cannot undo in a few weeks the negative patterns of thoughts and behaviour built up over years of their own difficult childhoods. We were successful with Dana because we learned from her what would be effective. We learned that keeping the door open to people when they need this, is vital. Progress and personal development is not a linear, upward trajectory for everyone. In difficult lives things are often changing and new demands and challenges are emerging. Dana maintains contact with us and uses the coaching process when she needs to gain perspective or consider her options. In her lifetime Dana has experienced statutory intervention in her life since she was 3 years old. 20 years later, she tells us that respect, honesty and helping her make decisions and choices in her own way, are helping her to see a way forward.