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Texas Families: Together and Safe

Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS) is a program operated by BCFS Health and Human Services that helps families with children ages 3-17 years old in Texas. In TFTS, parents can learn about the importance of stress management and improved communication. Families are also provided connections to community resources.

The following testimonials from different sides of the classroom dynamic ­­­– teacher and student – offer a glimpse into one of the ways BCFS Health and Human Services cultivates our communities by investing time and instruction to the families who live there alongside us.

Calming Influence
By Elizabeth De La Rosa

I have always been a yeller. The more upset I became, the louder I yelled. With three growing boys, I was beginning to realize that this was not working, and I needed to change the way I was approaching situations. I felt like I was losing my oldest son to technology and that if I took the technology away I was being too hard on him. I also felt that if I forced him to spend time with me with me or do things with the family, he would just resent me. I was at a loss. The TFTS Parenting Wisely class helped me see that yelling was only making me more and more angry. It was not solving the situation at all. I was creating a monster!

I began to practice what the program was teaching and just speak to my children more and hold them more accountable for their actions. I valued what they said and took that into account before making rash decisions. I began speaking more with my husband as well. We started to agree on things before we spoke to the kids.

The greatest thing about this is how it changed my relationship with my oldest son (13 years old). I began to speak with him and ask for his input as well. My expectations are the same, but now we discuss them. I let him help make decisions that I can live with. Some, I may not agree with completely, but after hearing his side, I can be okay with them. We’ve had many ups and downs and struggles to get where we are today. I did think many times that he was doing it on purpose just to irritate me, but I stayed firm and kept my composure. That was very hard to do! He truly tested me beyond what I would have ever thought.

After much struggle, I now feel like we have become closer than ever. In a world of technology, I found myself calling or texting him to get his attention, he now asks me to spend time with him! He hugs and kisses me more (not in public, of course). He comes down from upstairs and wants to watch movies with me. He now understands when he has consequences and follows through with them with little resistance. The best part is that I am not yelling nearly as much as I used too. When I do yell (because old habits are very hard to break) I catch myself and keep my composure. The children now let me know that I am yelling and remind me that we agreed we would speak to each other and not yell.

We are a much happier family now. I am no longer worried about my blood pressure. In all reality, I felt like I was losing my son. Now, I no longer carry such a fear. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I feel we are better able to discuss things together and come up with the most suitable way to handle the situation…together.

Thank you for giving me such great tools.

Mindful Parenting
By Patricia Heredia

My name is Patricia Heredia, Parent Education Facilitator with the Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS) parenting program. I taught TFTS at El Dorado Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas, where I met Mrs. Cardenas.

Mrs. Cardenas had perfect attendance at the TFTS Parenting Wisely Young Child class. During the first few weeks of class, she was skeptical because she thought it was going to be like all the other classes she had attended where they would lecture her and tell her all the things she was doing wrong. Mrs. Cardenas did not believe the parenting skills mentioned in the parenting book would work.

Halfway through the course, she mentioned that she had practiced the active listening technique and the “I” Statement that we discuss in class. Throughout class, she mentioned that the self-reflection exercise during each class has helped her understand why she made the choices she did. She said that TFTS helped her finally understand that her choices have consequences for her and her children.

“I did not give my kids the chance nor the time to express their feelings, listen, and be mindful,” Mrs. Cardenas says. “I did not put them first when I was supposed to, and now I have hope and pray other people can realize how important it is to be present.” 

At graduation, Mrs. Cardenas was so grateful when talking and expressing her thoughts about her experience in class, the activities provided, and the home practice. She maintains that TFTS helped her understand parenting much better.

“Maybe my story and struggles can help somebody else bond,” she says, “and be mindful of placing their children first. Because of my participation in class, I have been able to keep a close relationship with my children. I will continue practicing the parenting skills.”