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Help for Parents

November 11, 1994

Sorting through our feelings of anguish and horror, as we watched the two little South Carolina boys buried and their mother jailed (Nov. 4-5, 7), I believe it is time to do a reality check on America, 1994. In my position of senior director of the Stephen S. Wise Temple Parenting Center in Los Angeles (a support program for parents with children from birth to 3 years of age), I have spoken to many new mothers who find themselves depressed and overwhelmed with the responsibility of nurturing their babies, taking care of their households, earning a living and struggling with feelings of isolation.

One young woman who stands out in my memory came to me to ask for help in giving her children away. As a single mother she had done all she could to keep her head above water and she was ready to give up. Luckily we had the resources to help her and this story had a happy ending.

I would like to suggest that we establish drop-in centers for new mothers (and fathers) in churches, temples and community centers in our neighborhoods. I have personally observed the empty rooms available on a daily basis in so many of these facilities. Even hospitals could take part in providing this type of "emotional" emergency care. These drop-in environments could be staffed with senior citizens, retired teachers or other compassionate listeners who could give relief and also help to find appropriate resources for an exhausted mother. This would begin to provide the emotional safety net for new families that we have found to be so effective in our temple program.

This terrible tragedy provides an opportunity to turn our pain into constructive action and to protect our most valuable national treasure, our children.

MARILYN BROWN

Los Angeles

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