For young mums who grew up without a positive maternal influence, Mother’s Day can be a powerful catalyst for change.
Centacare’s Vicki Lachlan says it’s one of the most important dates on her calendar at Louise Place each year.
One of four Young Family Support Program sites across metropolitan Adelaide, Louise Place supports young pregnant or parenting women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“Mother’s Day is very, very important,’’ Vicki says.
“These young women have made the decision to be parents and they need to feel proud that they have a little one, and that they’re doing ok.’’
Vicki recalls the experience of one teenage mum with a six-month-old baby.
“Her mother had given her lots of negative feedback but because she was living here, we could see lots of positive things she was doing with her baby, and how well she was coping.
“When we gave her a Mother’s Day present and congratulated her on how she was doing, she was just overwhelmed because we were recognising her as a mother.
“We talk about them being mothers all the time but it was like a light switch went on. It was really lovely to see.’’
Such celebrations are often foreign for young mums who are learning to parent on the back of childhood trauma and other complexities, says Megan Welsh, Executive Manager, Youth and Community Support Services.
“They may have a child protection history or trauma in their background, and they’ve got no support network around them that they can trust. That makes it hard.
“Developmentally they are still teenagers, but they are teenagers trying to do adult things, and that’s tough.’’
For them, Mother’s Day can be a positive step forward, she says.
“They often have really tricky relationships with their mums and that brings up all sorts of stuff around what it is to be a mum and how they want their experience to be different to their own upbringing.
“A lot of the young women haven’t celebrated anything in their lives. So it’s important we make a fuss and recognise the influence they have on the little people they’re looking after.
“Becoming a mum is a total shift in their lives. They can spring off it and change their own family trajectory.’’
Findon Family Housing outreach worker Stacey Gibb sees Mother’s Day as an opportunity to cut through the loneliness and isolation felt by many young mums in the absence of a supportive family and partner.
“We really try and empower them. We let them know how important they are for their children and make them feel special.’’
*Bags of baking goodies and other kitchen wares will be distributed to young mums through Centacare support services tomorrow. The Mother’s Day gifts are the work of MumKind, a group of South Australian women who have banded together to help others in need. MumKind’s Katie Earl is pictured with Vicki Lachlan, Manager, Louise Place, and Centacare’s Assistant Director, Bernie Victory.