Healing Across Generations Vital for CUPS Family Development Centre

Featured guest post written by Kevin Rushworth, CUPS

Warm and inviting for parents and guardians and their children, CUPS’ Family Development Centre (FDC) supports early literacy, taps into kids’ interests and promotes positive parent-child interactions. As a trauma-informed not-for-profit, it’s important that CUPS works at the pace of each family. We meet them where they are to help them reach the goals they’ve set for themselves and their little ones.

At CUPS, our team utilizes a two-generational approach to wellness. In FDC, this translates to reading nooks, spaces for playtime therapy, child minding (when parents are served elsewhere in CUPS) and group and one-on-one coaching. Families accessing CUPS support learn that healing is never out of the question, and one of the first steps on the journey is awareness.

Families who want something different, something better for their children

Every moment children experience has a lasting impact, and this may extend to when they become parents themselves. We learn how to parent from our parents. The people who come to us to learn new parenting skills often do so, because they’ve experienced childhood traumas or disruptions. Moving past these to improve the lives of their children requires considerable courage, not to mention unlearning. 

Grant Kennedy, CUPS senior manager of Family and Child Development, thinks it’s fantastic to see parents commit to the tools and techniques to reduce stress and create new healthy cycles.

“The more we can engage with our clients to get their worries out into the open, it’s impactful.”

Regulating emotions, building self-respect and setting healthy boundaries

We’re here to help facilitate life-long self-esteem and self-worth for parents and children. CUPS’ FDC coaches empower adults to identify and develop their strengths despite adversity, and to be tremendous advocates not only for themselves but for their young ones.

To break cycles, parents build and model skills for their own children including emotional regulation, as young ones watch how their parents respond to situations, both negative and positive. Kids who can control and suitably adapt their feelings have been known to better navigate life’s challenges.

With us, parents learn stress management, as well as reflective functioning, through our Attachment and Child Health (ATTACH™) intervention. In partnership with CUPS and the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Nursing, they learn to think outside of themselves, and to know how their child might view a situation. Why? Our initial interpretation of what might have happened might not be the entire truth.  When children see their parents putting behaviour into practice that is nurturing, calm, and regulating, it provides a feeling of safety, and kick starts healthy brain development, without toxic stress. More so, generationally, it forms a new, healthy cycle for the future.

“When kids see positive modelling, it influences how they treat people and want to be treated,” Kennedy said, noting that, with calmness, executive functioning works as it should without a fear response. 

An organization built on brain science, CUPS teaches families that parent-child interactions are linked to developmental domains, including gross and fine motor skills, positive communication and social-emotional wellbeing. A seemingly small play interaction, serve and return, has compounding effects.

“It’s really supporting their child’s development on any number of levels,” he said.

Camaraderie, connections and friendships built through group programs

Our Nurturing Parenting™ group program is the cornerstone of our FDC curriculum. In this, participants learn for themselves how empathy, compassion and nurturing behaviour fit in their own journey.  To us, it’s striking when a parent moves from potential discomfort in expressing themselves to seeing the value in childhood play and using strategies to engage with their kids. Another benefit of group learning is the peer component — parents learn to navigate mutually occurring experiences from others.

“There are times when another parent does a bit of coaching or guiding for that other client and provides a bit of knowledge translation and skill building from a peer-based perspective,” Kennedy said. Through Nurturing Parenting, friendships have formed. These connections go beyond time spent with the group, and carry onto parents’ own personal lives, forming natural, and critical, social supports.

In CUPS’ Circle of Security, another program (attachment-based), we explore a careful balance between the need for children to explore and test limits, while being responsive to the needs of caretakers.  Lastly, we’ve started a parent chat group to maintain relationships. Participants who have finished programming come together, with light facilitation from CUPS, to sustain that vital peer support.

We extend our gratitude to an amazing partner

On behalf of CUPS, we’re thankful to the Silver Gummy Foundation for their years of financial support. Funds provided were applied across multiple expense categories to enhance outcomes for parents and children working to build healthy relationships rooted in trust and respect.

Visit our Apply for a Grant page for information on current Silver Gummy grant opportunities.