We’ve had the good fortune of helping over 3,000 people become better parents, husbands, wives, and partners. Here are just a few of their stories.
Before attending the program, “Shawn” and “Peter” were on the verge of breaking up. They had two young children and desperately wanted to try to work things out for the sake of the family. They realized how their arguing was affecting their daughters. At class, they especially liked the nonverbal time out signal, and will use it in front of their daughters in future. Peter said, “This class changed the way I complain and I now try to consider her [Shawn’s] feelings. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“Kelly” had moved from place to place as a military service member, and she and her young son were new to Sacramento. She knew few people, and her last relationship had been an abusive one. She loved coming to class and getting to know other single moms and dads, and would come early, bring fruit to share, and contribute in many positive ways to the group. When she spoke up at graduation, she told the class that in the past she had always stood up for her son and required that people treat him well. She realized that to take care of him, she also needed to stand up for herself.
Before attending class, “Cecilia” and her boyfriend had been in a relationship for almost two years. They both had children from previous relationships and were struggling with blending the family. They were committed to finishing the program. However, when they were two-thirds of the way through the program, they realized that their problems were beyond solving and decided it was best to end the relationship before causing damage to their children. They were able to end the relationship amicably and remain in contact so their children can continue to see each other. They were grateful that they could both move on without wondering if they could have made it work. Cecilia later enrolled and completed the class for singles. In the singles class she learned that it takes more than the parents “just hooking up” to blend a family. Cecilia is currently focused on creating a healthy environment for her children.
For “Carlos” and “Angelina,” the most valuable information they learned from class was to not communicate when you are angry, because you may say things you don’t mean. They learned that sometimes it’s best to wait until the anger calms down to talk things through.
“Josiah” and “Valerie” were newlyweds and found themselves arguing a lot. They couldn’t afford counseling. They found our program online and decided to try it out. They learned how to avoid each other’s trigger words, and to take time-outs from arguments. They are practicing using reflective listening to help their partner feel more understood. Since the class, they are able to talk about their issues and concerns in a more effective way. They have broken many barriers and now feel closer to each other.
Before meeting her current partner, “Verika” was in a relationship where she felt very unsafe. She got out safely and found a new partner. When they came to the RSC classes Verika had been with her new partner for several years, but unresolved issues and baggage from her past kept interfering with their relationship. Before taking the couples class Verika and her partner were arguing more frequently, especially around parenting issues concerning their daughter. From the program they learned to use the various communication techniques. Verika and her partner agreed that using the “skills” with their daughter helped get their family on the same page. The most important thing they took from RSC classes was how to focus on discussing one issue at a time. Verika gained more self control by recognizing the signs and asking for a timeout before losing her temper. Since completing the couples program, their communication has improved and they can have those difficult conversations without getting upset.
“Allison” and “Greg” were struggling in their relationship, and they felt unsupported and alone. They left in the middle of class on the first day, and said at the time that it was because the childcare space wasn’t a good spot for their baby. After their class host checked in and talked to them about how to have the class be a great experience for their kids, they agreed to come back and try again. From the program, they learned how to address conflicts and resolve issues instead of avoiding the problem. She loved the exercises in class about framing the problem in a positive way. At the end of class, she told staff that they “had made her home a happier place, and that will rub off on the children.” She also said that she’d just been using her baby as an excuse not to come back, but when staff called her to make sure she and the kids would get what they needed, she felt wanted, and felt like staff cared. It made them give the program a second chance.
John and Natasha were two of our first participants. Like many young couples, they met and fell in love, but soon learned that Natasha was pregnant. John had been raised by a single mom after his alcoholic father abandoned them. He then watched his heroin-addicted step-father abuse his mother. John’s mother told him he had no responsibilities toward the child. Natasha was a recent immigrant whose parents urged her to marry John for the sake of the baby. The couple was under extreme pressure and began fighting endlessly. One day, Natasha picked up a Flourishing Families brochure and shared it with John. They immediately registered for the program. Through the classes, they learned the skills to communicate, set goals, manage money, handle conflict, and prepare for parenthood. They committed themselves to getting married and raising the child together, and to finishing school. That was several years ago. Today, John and Natasha are both college graduates, are building their careers, have a great marriage, and are raising their son in a happy, healthy home.
“Marissa” was a single mom raising her 13 year old daughter when she came to class. After completing the program, she met her new boyfriend. She said that she immediately looked for red flags such as possessiveness or jealousy. So far, there are none. She also made sure to talk about baggage from the past before making a commitment, because she didn’t want to bring her prior relationship issues into the new relationship. She and her partner have been seeing each other for 8 months now, and they are taking things slow.
“Carlos” has been there for his kids throughout their life and with all the stress on finding a job that was stable, he didn’t know what more to do, especially being a single dad. While in class, he learned that other parents were struggling with similar challenges. He has started working on some entrepreneurial efforts. He is not currently dating, but feels he has the tools for a relationship if he finds one in future.
When Erin and Tisa heard other couples discussing their challenges and concerns in our class, they realized that they were not alone in their situation. They found solace in their ability to exchange stories with other participants who were experiencing the same frustrations.
Jill and Matt had a one-year-old child and were struggling financially. Things were tough, but they had trouble figuring out how to make it better. They were both a little skeptical coming into our program. Jill wasn’t sure about what our program had to offer, and Matt didn’t think he wanted to be there. But as the class progressed, they began to open up about some of the issues they were having in their relationship. They learned how to listen and communicate without fighting. Jill said that for a long time now she had been considering going back to school to become a nurse. Before the class Matt had no idea that Jill had that dream. They discussed some of the obstacles that prevented them from reaching their goals, and explored options that might make it possible for Jill to attend school. Through open communication, they were able to make the decision that Matt will stay home with their child so that Jill could go back to school. They look forward to a better future for themselves and their child.
Alisha Grimes became a mother at 14. Edward Purcell was one of eight siblings by seven different men. He knew his father but saw him only once a year, on his birthday. “He would pick me up, give me alcohol and drugs, and drop me at my grandmother’s,” he recalled. They had 8 children between them when they met. After beginning a relationship, they soon had 2 more children. Edward struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and got into trouble with the law. This caused problems for the couple and they argued often. Alisha had a steady job as a cashier, but when she lost that job, the arguments became more frequent. In the heat of a fight, Edward would leave their home. But because she loved him and knew how much he loved their children, Alisha always welcomed him back. Following the birth of their third child, Alisha knew something had to change. She learned of classes for unwed couples with low incomes through a social worker. She and Edward signed up right away. In the class, they learned about money management, parenting, and communication skills. They learned the importance of listening and not leaving, even when the conversation got tough. Following the program, Edward decided he wanted a better life for himself, Alicia, and the children. He quit turning to drugs and alcohol, began attending church, and was baptized with his children. Knowing they now had a better chance for a strong future, the couple married in 2011. “We wanted to do this for us and our children,” Alicia said. “We want to set a better example for them.”
“We had a session where you drew out a picture of where you see your life in the future. I drew a house, with a car and a pool. After the class I got a better job, moved from a 1-bedroom to a house, and got a new car. I just don’t have the pool yet!”
There was not a lack of love. Both expressed that they loved one another but could not figure out how to get along and it was affecting their son. They did not want to lose each other so Lisa did a Google search on how to save your marriage and RSC popped up. They said that the last few weeks since they have been in the class their marriage is the best it has ever been. They feel they have learned to better communicate and be more effective listeners. The biggest thing they learned is that everything does not have to be talked about immediately; you can schedule time to talk and discuss. Their hope is that at the end of the class they will able to take what they learned and pass on those skills to their son.
Heather and Johnny went to their first couples class not knowing what to expect when they walked through the door, and graduated six weeks later with a profound appreciation for the help they received from our instructors and coaches, as well as a newfound faith in their marriage.
Liz is a single mother with a son. She was married for 5 years and was very unhappy. Her husband was verbally abusive. She got a divorce and went back home to live with her parents. She knew she wanted a better life for herself and her child. After hearing about our program for single parents, she quickly enrolled. In the program, Liz learned that abuse wasn’t always physical – it could also be verbal. She learned how to plan for her child’s future, and learned how to tell whether or not a potential partner might be a good choice. Before taking the program, Liz was just getting to know someone new, but she wasn’t sure if he would be a good choice for her and her son. She used the skills she gained in the program helped her make her decision. Liz has told us she’s very happy she took the class, as she learned a lot about herself and can now make better choices for a happier future.
“Well, right now I’m choosing not to be in a relationship. Before it was negative and I was in abusive relationships. So it’s good that I’m taking a break and being careful not to repeat that and have my children around that.”
A year ago, Marc and Anna wanted to enroll in our program. During the enrollment process, we found that they’d had an incident where a fight had gotten out of hand and there had been a minor physical altercation. We deemed that our program was not a good fit at that time. We let them know that they could not attend at this time, and recommended anger management services. Recently, we heard from them again. Anna said that being “disqualified” from our program was a wakeup call. They did engage in anger management services, and have had no further violent behavior on either side since. Their family is much safer now, and will be attending our program in future.
“We are going through a rough time, financially, etc. But the skills we learned were helpful to get us through this. We have 3 kids ages 10 to 20 and have been together since aged 15. We’d developed a lot of bad habits. Now we can agree to disagree, we no longer separate for periods of time like we used to. Learning not to blame. I don’t have to try to change his mind. It was devastating to the kids when we would ‘take a break’ and he’d leave for a few days, etc. So, it’s so much better and he hasn’t left for over a year. It’s made a huge difference with the kids – they feel secure.”
“I had never really dated. This is the first I’d ever dated. Usually, I’d sleep with a woman, then we’d try to make it work. Now I am dating. We’ve been dating for months. We’re getting married in December. We’ve gone through pre-marital counseling and we’re doing all we can to make this work well.”
“The Time Out was easy to incorporate. My partner’s 17 year-old had just moved in and was sharing a room with our 3 yr. old. We were ready to call it quits, the adjustment was so hard. I found the class online and it saved our relationship! He’s a sponge [her son]. Everything we do he picks up on. We would fight, I’d leave and he’d never see the resolution part. Now we talk through it and he sees that. [My partner] works and is saving now, whereas he never did before. He’s a truck driver, so they drive less in winter. Now he has savings for that as well. He’s also made another savings account for buying a house. So these are huge changes and have made a big difference for our finances.”