Discovering the Power of Shared Experience

“You Aren’t the Only One”:
Discovering the Power of Shared Experience

  "I wanted to become a better parent." 

"I wanted to become a better parent." 

To those around her, Debbie appeared to be Super Mom. She had a successful career as a realtor. She volunteered in her kids’ classrooms, chaperoned field trips, served on 4H committees and volunteered with Napa Little League. She seemed to effortlessly balance the demands of her career and the challenges of being a single mom.

But behind closed doors, Debbie struggled to manage it all and would often find herself losing her patience with her three children. “I was a yeller,” Debbie said. “I would try to get my point across by yelling. And I didn’t realize the toll that took on my kids until it was too late. Unfortunately, my two older children decided to live with their dad full time. When that happened, I realized I needed help. I wanted to become a better parent.”

But Debbie didn’t know where to find the help she needed. Fortunately, one of the attorneys working on her custody case knew about Cope and referred her to our Triple P-Positive Parenting Program. “The class was really great,” Debbie said. “The parenting techniques were very useful. And it was also helpful to meet other parents facing similar struggles. Everybody was willing to share their story and we learned from each other. By going to the classes, I was able to figure out new ways of interacting with my kids that would strengthen our relationship.”

Although Debbie’s older children still live with their dad, Debbie is grateful that her youngest son is benefitting from her new skills. “It has really changed how I parent. He sees that I don’t yell anymore. I’m glad that I was able to get the help now but I wish I knew about it earlier. I truly believe that if I had known about Cope sooner, I might have my family all together in one house.”

Because of the difference Cope has made in her life, Debbie is committed to helping reduce the stigma around seeking help. “Some people say that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But I believe that asking for help is a sign of strength. I wish more people felt safe asking for help. When you talk to other parents going through similar struggles, you realize you aren’t the only one. I think a lot of people feel alone. They feel like they aren’t good parent but they may not want to ask for help because they feel like they should know what to do and are ashamed.”

  "By sharing our stories in the class, it helped others feel like they could talk about their challenges. It's important to be open about our struggles so we can support each other."

"By sharing our stories in the class, it helped others feel like they could talk about their challenges. It's important to be open about our struggles so we can support each other."

Cope helped Debbie realize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. “What I realized is that we’re all learning. By sharing our stories in the class, it helped others feel like they could talk about their challenges. It’s important to be open about our struggles so we can support each other.”

Since coming to Cope, Debbie has become one of our biggest advocates, telling her story so that other parents can get the help they need. “I realized that by sharing my experiences - of my struggles and how Cope helped me - I can help other families. If it wasn’t for Cope and the classes, I would never be where I am now. I wish everybody could get the help I received. I want to get more parents to be aware of Cope’s services because they are so beneficial.”

Debbie generously volunteers her time to speak at each new Triple P class, sharing her story so parents can hear from someone who has gone through the program.  She is also a member of Cope’s Ambassadors Circle, a committee of volunteers who are dedicated to building awareness and volunteer support for Cope’s mission and programs.  “It’s important for everyone in the community to get involved, to give back. It’s something that I love to do. And I know that seeing me volunteer will help my kids learn the importance of helping others.”

• • •

This story is featured in our 2017 Impact Report. You can view the full digital report to learn more about Cope's impact and read more featured stories like Debbie's.