Becoming a parent is often an exciting and joyful time in the life of a family. The first months and years after delivering a child, or adopting a child, are usually greatly anticipated by parents, and there is a sense of hope and discovery as this new person enters into the family. Yet, the parents I have worked with have taught me that having a young infant and toddler is also a major change that can feel overwhelming and stressful.
Our culture, in many ways, does not allow parents to acknowledge how stressful parenting can really be. Parent-infant relationship support is a service for parents of young children (0 – 3 years) and offers a safe place where parents can acknowledge their stresses, get support, and build confidence in their new roles and responsibilities.
What happens in Parent-Infant Relationship Support?
In Parent-Infant Relationship Support, the parent, their baby, and the therapist meet together to build and support their developing relationship. Parent-Infant Relationship Support works from an Infant Mental Health perspective, meaning that young children’s physical, social, and emotional development is directly related to the quality of their relationships with their primary adult caregivers.
More specifically, it means that infant and toddler development is best served in the context of warm, nurturing, and consistent relationships with adults. In Parent-Infant Relationship Support, the therapist is a partner to the parent in getting to know their infant, figuring out how they want to parent their baby, and how best to achieve this.
Who can benefit from Parent-Infant Relationship Support?
Who can benefit from Parent-Infant Relationship Support? Parent-Infant Relationship Support is appropriate for parents:
Who may be under stress and worried about how this stress is impacting their baby
Who are confused about the behavior of their infant or toddler and need guidance in understanding them
Who feel that their own parenting experiences as a child were less than optimal, and want support in providing something better for their baby.
Parent-Infant Relationship Support is a completely voluntary intervention designed to support the unique strengths of each parent. Interested parents should have custody of their child, and should not currently have involvement with the Department of Children and Family Services (DSFS).
How can parents get started?
Parent-Infant Relationship Support begins with an assessment process that helps the parent teach the therapist about their lives with their baby, and their experiences parenting him or her. The assessment process generally takes between 4 – 6 hour long sessions and includes an initial parent interview, a developmental screen of the infant, and a video-taped parent-infant interaction. Parents usually report that this is a time of discovery for them as well because the assessment tools help parents see themselves and their strengths more clearly, uncovers the hopes and dreams they hold for their baby, and helps them uncover any road blocks that are getting in the way of them being the parent they would like to be.