Because of Mother’s Day, May is a popular month to honor our mothers and the special bond between children and the incredible women who raised them. This powerful mother-child bond is among the reasons why the health and wellbeing of the mom attributes to and can often affect the children. Because of this, when addressing family violence, many often focus on a siloed approach that addresses the mother and/or children only. While this approach of only focusing on one part of the family comes with the best intentions, it makes it more difficult to create sustainable change.
Over our 27-year history, we have found that when you address the adverse effects of family violence in a manner that is specifically tailored to the unique needs of both parents and their children, the following benefits can occur:
- Mothers are more likely to receive help if their children can also receive help at the same time: For many of the families that we have worked with, we have found that family violence is often not the only obstacle that mothers are dealing with. Many of these women also struggle with financial challenges, work obligations, child rearing, and many more responsibilities. As a result, asking a mother to come to a support group can sometimes feel overwhelming. Despite these challenges, we have found that many survivors are more likely to participate and stay engaged in the program if their children can also receive support for the violence they have witnessed.
- The more parts of the family you work with, the better informed you are: For a variety of reasons, mothers may not always feel comfortable being completely honest about their situation. Children, especially when they are young, often do not share this fear. As a result, when organizations are given the opportunity to work with both the mom and child(ren), they are able to get a clearer picture and, as a result, are better equipped to provide a more effective intervention.
- You can help stop the cycle of violence: Research shows that children who grow up in homes where there is family violence are more likely to use or experience violence as adults. As a result, one of the best ways to stop the cycle is to not only address the current violence but also provide the children with the tools and resources to stop the cycle of violence. By working with both the survivor and the children, you are better able to create sustainable change.
Agencies and individuals may not always be able to work with each part of the family, but making every effort to connect with each family member could significantly increase the chances of a positive outcome. Addressing family violence with a more inclusive approach that includes everyone’s insights and perspective, instead of a singular perspective, helps increase the safety and wellbeing of the entire family.