Matthew is a committed, loving father. But, like all parents do from time to time, he felt he wasn’t coping with the demands of raising three young kids as well as he’d like to.
When Matthew came to the Cairns Early Years Centre (CEYC) almost four years ago, he and his kids had just moved to Cairns from NSW. The children’s mother had decided to remain in NSW and Matthew found himself in a new place as a single parent, without his family and friends.
He was socially isolated and suffering depression, anxiety, stress and migraines. His children, then nine, seven and five, had a range of mental health issues and two of them were on the autism spectrum. Each of them was displaying significant behavioural issues at home and school.
Matthew was lacking the emotional, financial and practical support he needed to navigate the complex parenting challenges he faced, so he looked to The Benevolent Society for help.
CEYC created a holistic plan which accommodated Matthew’s requirements, including parenting courses and one-to-one coaching, in-house assistance and behaviour support plans, individual and family counselling, and financial help to pay for school books, uniforms and babysitters.
Matthew even found time to apply for his driver’s licence and attend a Fathers’ Support Group.
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Because of this intensive support, Matthew and his family have made heart-warming progress.
Matthew is more confident in his ability to respond appropriately to each of his children’s multiple and complex needs. The children are interacting and behaving better, and Matthew feels he is more on top of his own mental health.
This new-found strength has helped him claim back his social confidence and find a loving, supportive partner with whom he is expecting a child in November.
“Without that support from my Benevolent Society case worker and everyone else who has assisted me at CEYC, my kids and I wouldn’t be where we are today,” says Matthew.
While Matthew knows he still has a long way to go, his transformation from a capable parent into a confident one has proved that every parent has potential; that every child can still thrive, no matter the odds; and that every family can stay together if they are given the chance to rebuild and strengthen the love that binds them together.
The Benevolent Society is the Major Partner of My Disability Matters. Regular articles are published on MDM News by The Benevolent Society, related to disability services and the NDIS in Australia.