“I enjoyed being at Mellow Dads, it was a great experience, it gave me the chance to hear other dads stories and how much they enjoy being dads. Thank you for letting me be a part of it”
“I now know that toys and expensive outings aren’t what kids want. They want your time and your attention. Before Mellow I just thought tantrums were tantrums but now I know why Dean has tantrums and understand how he feels”
“I have never been able to speak about the what happened to me and my sister before as it didn’t feel safe. I used drugs to block everything out but I have my daughter to think of now”
“I feel more confident dealing with Ciara now … Mellow has helped me trust people again and shows that not everyone is against me”
“I was abused by a family friend as a teenager and bar my children’s Mum I had never spoke to anyone before but finding out that it has happened to others makes me realise I am not alone”
“I enjoyed the ‘have a go’ as it gave me something to focus on each week. I have learned a lot from mellow like how to deal with different situations so Tim and me are happy… Mellow taught me to understand Tim’s feelings, why he does what he does. I have learned to be more patient and what makes me feel what I feel”
“I thought growing up with my dad as my friend was great … through this group I realise I needed a parent not a friend … I now realise that giving me money and everything I wanted didn’t compensate for not spending time with me … I didn’t realise my mum was the better parent to live with, I do now … Mellow has made me realise what my two sons need from me as a mum”
The Mother was initially reluctant to attend Mellow Babies however absolutely loves the programme and now looks forward to attending each week. She is implementing the strategies learned on the programme at home and since beginning the programme her confidence and self-esteem has increased dramatically
Overall very useful, clearly showing how MP can meet the needs of a specific group. I can see this fitting in well alongside other parenting programmes in the borough
Mellow Parenting has provided me with a great insight into ways in which parents can manage their child’s behaviour. There are approaches we have discussed which I have never thought of before
Simon lives in a small Scottish town with his two sons aged 9 and 5 and his 2 year old daughter. He and his ex- partner had a long history of drug abuse and were involved with Social Work Services for many years. The children had experienced several foster care placements and moved house numerous times. Simon became drug free and he and the children no longer have any contact with his ex –partner. He was referred to the Mellow Parenting programme by his social worker who indicated that if his ability to cope with his children’s needs did not improve the children would be placed in the permanent care of the local authority.
Simon says “Before going on the Mellow Parenting Programme I had loads on my mind, I didn’t know how to handle my kids, even the most basic things like getting them to school on time was difficult for me. Home Care came in daily and dealt with the kids. I would stick my head in the sand and felt like I was alone. It was very depressing and at times several time I felt it would be best if I just gave them up.
When my social worker told me about the Mellow Programme she said I had to do it or risk losing my kids. I didn’t really want to go but knew if I didn’t it would be all over for me. Nile came and met me at the house and straight away I liked him. He listened to me and told me that I could only go on the programme if I wanted to do it for me and not for Social Work. Not being forced or told to do something for me was something I want used to. It was always about the kids, nobody ever thought about me!
Since taking part in Mellow Parenting I feel a lot closer to my kids and more confident in getting my children to do things I have asked them to do. My children are so much happier and my oldest son Luke said “I don’t mind doing things with the dad’s group because they’re not social work”. Luke has been involved with Social Work for most of his young life. Since I have been working with Nile my Mellow Mentor I feel I have a better relationship with my support workers. He has made me realise they are there to help and are only there to look out for the kids. I now have someone I can talk to and someone who will support me if I need help with anything that is worrying me, the kids, money, anything; he’s always at the end of the phone and always makes time for me. My time keeping is so much better and I am going to all of my appointments and my social worker is happy with my progress. My middle child has now turned and told me “I love you daddy because you are really good at looking after me”. I now feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. My life is so much better and I am happy to wake up each morning. I no longer feel like looking after my kids as a job but as a blessing. For the first time in many years my life is moving in the right direction.
Simon attended the programme for the full 14 weeks and continues to meet with Nile, his Mellow Mentor regularly. Peer and Professional worker observations have reported improved interaction and communication with his children. There have been significant changes in his confidence and his understanding of his children‘s needs. His children are now tidy, clean and seem happier. This has resulted in Home Care no longer being required to support the family. Simon and his children’s now have regular weekly outings accompanied by his mentor. Observations have indicated that the children now seem happy to take part in local activities this has resulting in increased interaction with their father and a decreased level of challenging behaviour from the children.
Simon’s Social worker has reported that she has seen significant changes in him since taking part in the programme and is extremely happy with this progress.
Letter from a Mum
A letter from a mum who recently attended a Mellow babies Group. All names and identifying features have been changed; grammar, spelling and content remains the parent’s own.
Dear Christine and Paula
The past few months I commited myself and Zoe to Mellow Babies and the Family Centre.
I found it so difficult to come to terms with starting programs with lots of new people and leaving my precious little girl with strangers. However I did it for weeks every Wednesday 10 til 3 for Mellow Babies.
Wednesday’s after a while became a highlight of my week, but ended too quickly. Not only did Imake new friends, I also learn so much which made me such a better mum and person. Zoe even made new friends and learnt a lot from the other children.
To chose the top three things I learnt and has stick with me it would be:
Domestic’s effect a child even before their born mentally, physically and emotionally it also effects their behaviour.
A baby learns to copy even from being 10 minutes old.
Communication is so important as they do understand and they use cue’s to communicate back.
I must add LOVE and EFFECTION is a HUGE effect on children with their behaviour.
There are so many more things I could of listed but I would say they’re the most important tops we learnt (to me). Personally I will use most of these and keep them in mind forever.
When Erin was born I could of communicated a lot more, our bond was very strong but now I feel actually knowing the facts I know now we could have been even closer, which our bond now is as strong as ever. I find her cue’s easier now (yes she is that much older now so will be getting easier) also find it a lot easier in myself to understand others’ cues as well.
I would recommend Mellow Babies to every parent if they had the chance like I did also Dad’s if they could as anyone offered this rare yet amazing oppertunity with yourselves at the Family Centre. Then again I would recommend the Family Centre for women and mummy’s with problems like domestic abuse and social services.
During my time with the Family Centre you guys were helpful with most things, always made me and Zoe welcome, allowed Zoe to stay with me when she was relaly young in the group also helped me with social services. Though I didn’t have much experience with domestics also being one of the younger ones within the facilities you never let it affect what I did – Groups or judge me. However you were an amazing helped with my experiences though, made me aware of domestic stations and the “bad people” in term within the future not only with partners also with friendships.
Yourselves have inspired me and I would love to help people and children too maybe in the future I will.
A massive thank you to Christine and Paula, child care and the rest of the family centre.
Love, Peace and Hope
Mattie and Zoe
George was part of the first Mellow Dad’s in Fife which was held at Woodlands Family Centre. He was the main carer for his son, aged 1.5 years at the time and attended every session. He was not only keen to learn new parenting skills, share experiences, worries etc but have the opportunity to meet with other dad’s in a similar situation to himself.
Having completed the programme George was keen to promote Mellow and the impact this had had on himself as a parent. To this end he trained as a Mentor for Mellow Futures and was a Mentor for a parent attending the first Mellow Futures for Dads in Scotland. He was very committed to this role and was able to build up a relationship with this parent that was a massive boost for both of them in respect of their confidence and ability to take part in groups.
George continues to be the main carer of his son and is now volunteering in the local community – thanks to Mellow Parenting.
“Being a Mellow Parenting Facilitator (MPF)”….
M = Marvellous interaction with parents and parents-to-be….. the groups are so relaxed and informal, and although the programme content is always delivered, being parent-led means we, as facilitators, can deliver the sessions in such a flexible way to suit the needs of the group. Therefore each parent feels they are being listened to, valued and respected.
P = Powerful emotions can be unleashed within these sessions…..parents may find themselves pouring out thoughts they’ve kept inside for a long time. Mellow groups can enable parents to feel safe, secure and appreciated in a non-judgmental way, which in turn, empowers them to speak from the heart. Parents may find themselves revisiting their past, and challenging historic (or current) relationship issues. Tears may flow (and have done on many an occasion!), however there is always a box of tissues on the table, a comforting shoulder and a listening ear at a Mellow group!
F = Fun!! There are lots of laughs in Mellow sessions! Parents are encouraged to enjoy their pregnancies then ultimately, their babies and children. We provide lots of fun activities for parents and their children to enjoy together, encouraging bonding and attachment. From bubbles and balloons, to messy play and singing – everyone is encouraged to have fun with their children and unleash the child within themselves (including us facilitators!!)
I have been trained as a facilitator for Mellow programmes for just over a year now, I have been involved in the organisation and facilitation of Mellow Babies, Mellow Toddlers and Mellow Bumps. The groups have all been very successful and the satisfaction of watching a group coming together is very rewarding. Families involved always love the group content and build up good relationships with other parents, often leading to lasting friendships. Families never want the group to come to an end and so many parents wish they could do it all over again. It’s very rewarding to see parents making changes in their lives, moving on to other groups and seeing their confidence building over the weeks. These parents are clearly taking steps to make a difference in their children’s lives, improving the quality of interactions as well as improving not only their own but their children’s life chances.
Family Support Worker, Fife
Having spent a lot of years as a worker advising parents what to do and not sharing any information about myself I was concerned on a personal level that I would find it difficult to take part in the group in every activity along with the parents, share my own personal experiences and not be in charge!!
However, co-facilitating not only the first Mellow Dad’s in Fife but also the first Mellow Futures for Dads in Scotland the exact opposite has happened. The trusting relationships that are built up in the group mean that I am comfortable sharing personal information, and it has given me the opportunity to reflect on how I was parented and in turn how this influenced my own parenting style. What is invaluable is the support that group members offer to each other and how getting advice from your peers can have so much impact. I have learned so much about myself as a person, a worker, a mum and like the parents who take part this will stay with me forever.
If parents attend every week, willingly share personal information and experiences, build in confidence as an individual and parent, and are always disappointed when the group comes to an end, it means it works and it’s brilliant that Fife recognises this and supports Family Support in Fife to deliver the programme. Oh and I manage not to stomp my feet if someone else wants to be in charge of the flipchart!!!”
For the past four years I have been a Mellow Facilitator, during this time I have lucky enough to organise and co facilitate Mellow Bumps, Mellow Babies and Mellow Toddlers.
Although the content of each of these groups doesn’t change I do like that there can be can be a little flexibility of the running order of the weeks. This allows you to consider individuals needs and situations, which I feel helps to ensure that everyone gets the most from each session and that topics are covers just at the right time for that particular group.
If I was asked what I love the most about the Mellow Programmes I would have to answer – Watching the stages and changes of each group.
This is what I see :-
In the beginning – Parents who are nervous, quiet, shy and a bit apprehensive about the whole “group” thing.
Midway – Parents becoming more confident as individuals and also in their role as parents. stronger bonding and attachments with children, a safe and secure feeling amongst the group, a boost to peer support and parents who have or are forming lasting friendships.
Coming to an end – Confident parents who are believing in themselves as parents, who are developing healthier parent/child relationships that will hopefully follow through generations. Parents who are feeling empowered to move forward into the next stage of their lives and follow their hopes and dreams. A sense of achievement