A childhood of abuse and neglect during which a young mum had watched violence in her family home countless times left her frozen, speaking in a low monotone voice. She seemed unable to respond to any attempts by her baby to catch her attention.
Elaine* was a very young mother who came to St Michael’s for a residential parenting assessment because there were serious concerns about her ability to care for her new baby.
“The parent within her has been allowed to come out. St Michael’s has allowed her to flower,” said a family assessment practitioner
Staff recognised very early on that Elaine loved her baby deeply. The challenge was to get her to show this love. For several weeks, they worked with her to transform her frozen face and expressionless speech.
…left St Michael’s with her baby
Elaine was encouraged to work with a mirror each day and to pull faces showing different emotions; sad, happy, surprised, puzzled. Instead of talking, she learned to sing; loud, soft, slow, fast, high, low.
Gradually these dynamics became incorporated into her day to day speech and facial expressions. She began to smile at her baby and tell her what she was doing and how happy she was to be a mum.
A magical relationship
And of course, her baby responded with smiles and gurgles, reinforcing what staff called ‘a magical relationship’.
Elaine left St Michael’s with her baby.