February is Parent Leadership Month, and we are celebrating parents across South Carolina who work to improve the lives of their families, neighbors and communities every day.
Bridget Webster is a mother and resident of Sumter. She has five biological children and is currently working on her third adoption. Her oldest child is 48 years old and her youngest is 2.
Webster has participated in the Strengthening Families Program as both a parent and trained group leader.
She recently shared her parenting journey—and some wisdom gained along the way.
What’s the best part of being a parent?
Nurturing my children is the best part – watching them grow and develop. My oldest is 48. So I’m still watching the growth and nurturing it. Regardless of the child’s age, it’s basically almost the same thing. As their parent, you still have to be their biggest fan and be a great listener. Listen, learn and observe.
What’s the hardest part of being a parent?
The hardest part is when life throws a curve, like medical issues or the emotional baggage many children come with. So you have to get knowledge on how to deal with all that. I’ve always told my children, “You know, you don’t come with a book.” What works for one does not work for all. I tell my adult children that with them dealing with their children. It’s an individual thing.
What’s one thing you would have told yourself as a new parent?
I think to be more prepared. Really think about what school, what daycare, the backup to the backup. I’m just thinking about how hard it was. I had my share.
How has the Strengthening Families Program supported you as a parent?
I had such a large family, and I was trying to meet all of everyone’s needs. And I was feeling like maybe I was falling short on some things. But Strengthening Families taught me that even if it’s just five minutes here or three minutes there—whether it’s on the weekends or in the kitchen making cookies—quality time adds up.
I think the kids are just different now. I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but definitely with all the electronics stuff. So with my 14-year-old, one of my children I’ve adopted, I’ve had to learn how to play this and that.
What has it been like guiding other parents through their journey as a Strengthening Families Program group leader?
I enjoy it. There again, you listen. You hear the parent’s side and the child’s side, and you try to mediate in between. It’s about building understanding between them. Strengthening Families is a great program. I wish more people would take the opportunity. It’s life-changing.
The Strengthening Families Program is a 14-week program for families with children ages 6 to 11. The goal of the program is to help parents and caregivers improve parenting skills, develop positive discipline practices, stay resilient in tough times, reduce conflict, and assist children with social skills, relationships, and school performance. It is offered across South Carolina through local partners in settings that include community centers, schools and churches.
Children’s Trust provides training for partners, collects data, and monitors the program to ensure it reaches the maximum potential for children and families as part of its overall mission to prevent child abuse and neglect in South Carolina. The Duke Endowment and the S.C. Department of Social Services serve as the funding partners in this effort.