BOISE, Idaho — Most parents would agree that parenting comes with a long list of challenges.
"I've struggled! Parenting is hard, it really is," Caldwell mom Reyna Sandoval said. "I feel like it's the most important thing I'm ever going to do in my life, and it really has been challenging for me and my husband."
With four kids, Sandoval said she really wants to give it her all — that's why she jumped at the chance to join the other 175 local parents each year learning how to strengthen their families through free weekly courses offered at Family Advocates.
"It teaches them how to communicate and gives them tools to use under stressful situations," Family Advocates Executive Director Kathryn Seebold said.
As it turns out, learning how to communicate can get complicated. In Sandoval's case, putting those practices into place highlights the differences between her children and allows her to embrace each child for who they are and how they need to be loved.
"I've noticed with my youngest daughter, you know, she is very emotional and so is my second oldest, he is really emotional. And i don't want to break their hearts," Sandoval said. "So I try now to communicate and say, 'Tell me what you're feeling, tell me what's going on, use your words — I'm listening.'"
The courses also cover social-emotional competency and the importance of self-esteem — even as adults — as children often mimic the behavior of those they admire most.
Lola Riley creates the curriculum for the courses, hoping each parent walks away with the confidence they need to care for their kids at home with compassion.
"They really are the buffer for their child and so it's hard but so rewarding, and when we create strong families it actually creates stronger societies and stronger communities," Riley said.
Outside of their offerings at their state street location, they also teach classes at the women's correctional facility and the Cardinal Academy - serving pregnant and parenting teens in the Treasure Valley. And if that weren't enough, they also work with the national CASA program — or Court Appointed Special Advocates — in which 200 local volunteers work one-on-one with Idaho children in the foster care system.
"They're really the eyes and ears to the court system," Seebold said. "So they're assigned a foster child and they're not only a mentor but they're there really to make sure the child is in a safe environment and that they're getting the resources in the community that they need.
Every child and family involved has access to everyday essentials at no cost, taking away the financial burden for families facing unimaginable stress.
"It could be anything from diapers to wipes to hygiene products, to maybe a stuffed animal - just because oftentimes children are taken out of their home very quickly under a pretty dire circumstance and they don't leave with very much," Seebold said.
They can always use donations of every kind, especially diapers and wipes, even in the larger sizes for the older kids and don't forget about everyday hygiene items like lotion, shampoo, and deodorant.
Donations for this Community Baby Shower day will be accepted June 15 at your local Albertsons store. If you can't make it to the store in person, you can simply donate by texting "BABY" to 345-345 or donate online below.