In October, the Bastrop County Early Childhood Coalition Safety for Families sub-committee, in partnership with LifeSteps, hosted Family Time Around the Table, a virtual event intended to bring Bastrop County families together to demonstrate how families can have meaningful engagement.
Prior to the event, families were provided with a grocery bag from H-E-B with all of the supplies they would need. They gathered together on Zoom to make a banana cream pie and an English muffin pizza and to paint pumpkins. As they worked together, parents learned not only how important it is to involve children in preparing meals, but also how a fun, simple activity can help them connect with each other.
In addition to the supplies for their food preparation and pumpkin painting, event goody bags included a few other valuable items. Participants were given a family-friendly cookbook that provides additional ideas to make these kinds of engaging at-home activities more frequent. Because keeping track of shot records, doctor visits, and other important information can be difficult for busy families, they also received a Family Care Portfolio designed to help coordinate, organize, and track care records for the entire family.
Between cooking and painting activities, LifeSteps hosted a game of Jeopardy, which was an entertaining way to provide substance abuse education to families. According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, approximately 1 in 8 children under the age of 18 live in a household with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder. While these children likely won’t experience abuse, they are at an increased risk of maltreatment and child welfare becoming involved. Children that are at greater risk may experience trauma due to neglect, impacts from their own prenatal substance exposure, or removal from the home by children welfare professionals. Parents that enter treatment and make their role as a parent part of their recovery process can help reduce the impact of their own substance abuse on their children.
In the United States, about 1 in 8 children ages 17 or younger are living in households with at least one parent who has a substance use disorder. While these 8.7 million children will not all experience abuse or neglect, they are at increased risk for child maltreatment and child welfare involvement compared to other children.
The children who are at greater risk may be affected by trauma due to parental neglect, the results of their own prenatal substance exposure, chaotic environments, or removal by child welfare professionals. Policies and procedures that encourage parents to enter substance use treatment and consider their parenting role as a part of their recovery process help to reduce the effects of parental substance use disorders on their children.
When life is busy and parents feel the pressure of doing it all, it can be easy to slip into unhealthy habits and routines, but when families feel connected and have access to a support system, they are better equipped to weather life’s storms together. Events like Family Time Around the Table build healthy habits, foster connection, and provide access to the tools and resources parents need. While this was a fun evening for all involved, so much more than that came from it. Simple activities like cooking and crafting together are helping families grow stronger and setting the foundation for generational change as children often look to their own upbringing to guide their parenting later on. Seeing their parents prioritize quality time together, gathering around a meal, and doing activities with one another will impact the next generation of parents and children.