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“The Gift of Empathy” — Meet Delores Reyes

Parenting Journey

The challenges of substance abuse and the daily struggle for sobriety … Babies addicted to methadone … Gang members for whom direct eye contact is taken as a threat … Couples whose infidelity appears an insurmountable barrier to togetherness … Parents who have been abused as children and who are now abusing their own.

“I’ve seen a lot,” said Delores Reyes, who has been with Parenting Journey for nearly 14 years, presently as a senior trainer and group facilitator.

Delores navigates a landscape of grave personal anguish and adversity for the members of her client families. Her guiding stars are compassion and experience.

Street-smart and savvy, Delores puts her client families at ease with a warm and inviting gaze that is welded to a sterling poise and confident attitude born of more than 25 years’ experience in community mental health. She has walked the walk, and her client families—women and men experiencing unimaginable hardship and pain—can sense it immediately.

This is how a pathway to success begins. The achievements may appear small, but they speak volumes. One such moment occurred in the wake of a parenting session called “Personal Inventory,” in which group members describe how they see themselves, how other people see them, and what issues they are working on in their lives.

“When gang members are claiming their turf,” Delores said, “hats play a very important role. After this particular session, the hats came off. This was a huge sign of respect for the group as a whole.”

What then poured out of the men were individual stories of how they were fathered and mothered.

“Anger is huge when it comes to men and their relationships with their biological mothers,” Delores said, “which, unfortunately, has affected the relationships with their children. You hear the resentment in dealing with women, issues of infidelity and how that affects their own parenting—and the parenting to come. If you’re not making changes, your children will tend to repeat some of the issues that you’ve got. If you’ve been at a basketball court or in a barbershop you hear the same tune, the same tone, as I hear with the men in the group.

“It becomes about the communication of respect,” she said. This is a victory essential to creating an atmosphere where shared responsibility and affection can flourish.

Delores’s personal interest in theater, dancing, drumming, and exercise dovetail beautifully with the way she approaches helping her client families, and it led her to earn a Master’s Degree in Mental Health and Expressive Therapies in 2014.

“There are so many stories to share about the success of parents attending Parenting Journey,” Delores said. “When it comes to sobriety, well, I believe the gift of empathy and not co-signing the insidiousness of addictive behaviors help members to sustain freedom from active addiction and to recover.

“With a good Parenting Journey group, these parents deal, cope, and grow.”