“I am in love with Families First’s program. It’s a mission for me,” says Families First Program Facilitator Yesenia Menendez.
With a master’s degree, experience as a social worker, and decades as a parent, she is certainly an expert, but she aligns herself with parents.
“I remember those days raising my kid by myself, a single parent. It’s been a bumpy road for me. It’s great when people see you’re on the same level… I use that [in the workshops].”
Yesenia brings Spanish-language parenting programs to immigrant communities like East Boston. For many of the parents there, economic challenges and cultural differences converge to disempower them with their kids.
“Every time I go to East Boston, the group is big… people are eager.”
“We talk about parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive. Many migrant parents are authoritarian out of fear. I teach them to embrace different styles—to open space for conversation without being too permissive.”
People want help in specific situations, but Yesenia says she doesn’t give solutions. Instead, she shares knowledge and tools so parents can find their own.
“This is changing people. It’s changing perspectives. We are empowering this community.”