Overcoming Family Violence through Skillful Parenting

Emma Akinyi, a single parent from Ramula village in Kisumu County, found herself facing insurmountable challenges after the demise of her husband in 2020. Rejected by her in-laws and forced to leave her marital home, Emma returned to her birthplace with her two children, Yvone Atieno (18) and Vincent Ochieng (17). Depending on selling rice for survival, Emma grappled with a competitive business environment, sometimes making a meager profit of 150 Kenyan shillings a day.

Emma's life took a dark turn with the departure of her husband, leading to conflicts with her in-laws and a descent into violence. Her cruel behavior not only affected her relationships with friends and neighbors but also instilled fear in her children, who resorted to leaving notes to communicate due to the harsh physical punishments they faced.

“My children could not sit next to me as they used to fear due to my cruel nature, but since I started using positive discipline technics I learnt from ICS, we enjoy family meetings and meals together, we have become great friends”, Says Emma

In December 2022, a turning point emerged when Emma was approached by an ICS Community Facilitator, introducing her to the Skillful Parenting curriculum. Recognizing an opportunity for change, Emma committed to the training sessions, motivated by the desire to break free from the cycle of violence that had engulfed her life.

“A picture came to my mind how I and my children were chased from our house after the death of my husband and how cruel I was to these children, I promised to join ICS training so as to change my house for better, Says Emma

Emma's transformation through Skillful Parenting was profound. The Value and Positive Discipline Module became a cornerstone, challenging her parenting style and prompting a shift towards positive discipline strategies. Emma learned that children mirror the behavior of their parents, leading her to instill essential values like humility, love, kindness, and transparency in her children.

“I am so happy about mum allowing me to be part of the girls being trained at this Ombeyi champions’ safe space. I enjoy the Life Skills trainings from the ICS Mentor, we share our challenges and advise one another” Says Ivone Atieno. 

Positive discipline methods replaced physical punishment, fostering open communication between Emma and her children. Family meetings and shared meals became moments of bonding, replacing fear with friendship. Emma's daughter, Ivone Atieno, who initially struggled with shyness, benefited immensely from the Life Skills training provided by ICS. Her self-esteem improved, and she became proactive in supporting her brother's education.

During a family meeting, Emma sought forgiveness from her children for her past harshness, pledging to be a good parent by providing the right values and a listening ear. Emma's testimony highlights the importance of being present for children and dispels the notion that one needs to be wealthy to be a good parent.

“Through ICS, I have learnt that, we need to be present for our children, give them a listening ear.  We do not need to be rich to be good parents, little things we do they will appreciate and feel loved.”

Emma’s journey attests to the transformative power of Skillful Parenting in breaking the cycle of violence and fostering positive family dynamics. The support from ICS has not only changed Emma's life but also empowered her to create a nurturing environment for her children, emphasizing the invaluable role of empathy and understanding in effective parenting.