By Blanca Torres, USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, October 18, 2022
When Mariana Pimentel thinks about her childhood in a small town in Mexico, she remembers being surrounded by anger and desperation.
Her parents worked long hours to support Pimentel and her brothers and sisters, so they were often absent. When they were home, her parents communicated by yelling.
“I want my kids to grow up in a different environment from how I grew up and not repeat the same mistakes,” said Pimentel, a 41-year-old mother of three.
Shifting away from the parenting style she grew up with took time and lots of work. Nine years ago, Pimentel, who lives in Salinas, began attending free classes on topics such as positive parenting and discipline at GoKids Inc., a nonprofit that provides early childhood education to lower-income families.
“I’ve noticed that if I am stressed or anxious, I will end up transmitting that to my kids. There is a connection,” Pimentel said. “The more I attend classes, the more I learn, the better I can help my children and the better off they will be.”
In addition to taking classes, Pimentel, her husband and two of her children received individual therapy through GoKids to deal with depression and anxiety. The family’s experience demonstrates the importance of addressing mental health not just for one person, but the family as a whole.