Season 1, Episode 5

Helping Families and Caregivers Thrive

Mar 29, 2022

Our guests connect the dots of how adverse exposures or events in childhood influence child development and attachment. As caregivers, they share their insights on dealing with social isolation, remote work, and home-schooling stresses imposed by the pandemic. Listen to gain empathy for young families and learn some healthy tips for coping.

We know the emotional well-being of young children is directly related to the health and wellness of their caregivers. When parents are stressed out their children experience that stress too. Chronic, protracted stress can put young children at greater risk of developing their own mental health problems and substance misuse later in life. Positive childhood experiences are critically important for children to grow into healthy adults.

Nathan Fink, with the NH Children’s Trust, and Michelle Lennon, with the Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center, connect the dots of how adverse exposures or events in childhood influence child development and attachment. They keep it real as they share how they deal with the timeless challenges around caregiving while also juggling unchartered territory of the pandemic, home-schooling, remote work and social isolation. They share how they have abandoned the notion of “being the best version of themselves” for a more modest and kind acceptance of “it is good enough”. Listen for how to “lighten your load and isolation”, reduce family stress and bring more joy to the caregiving role.

Explore more on the topics and themes discussed in this episode:

NH Children’s Trust: The Governor’s designated statewide community-based child abuse prevention agency, the New Hampshire chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, and a member of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust & Prevention Funds. Check out the searchable database of NH Family Resource Centers to find a center near you.

Step Up Parents: Provides financial assistance to caregivers in New Hampshire who are raising the children of parents with substance use disorder.

Welcome Families NH: A one-stop resource that helps families with young children find what they need, when they need it.

Parent Information Center: Support and answers for all your questions about services for children with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Home Visiting Services: Whether you are pregnant or already have a new baby at home, Home Visiting services help you with the support you want, when you want it. Many different types of services are available to guide and assist parents-to-be and parents of young children in the early stages of raising a family.

New Hampshire Family Voices: Provides free, confidential services to families and professionals caring for children with chronic conditions and/or disabilities.

Waypoint: A counseling service that offers a variety of services to support and strengthen young families including the free Family Support Warm Line (800-640-6480) where you can talk to a family support professional about things like coping strategies, child behaviors, family dynamics, household management and emotional distress.

The Partnership @drugfreeNH: Resources and information on strategies to prevent the misuse of alcohol, tobacco and other substances.

Host & Guests

Featured Guest:

Nathan Fink, Michelle J. Lennon

Host: Christin D’Ovidio


Episode Transcript (PDF)

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Nathan Fink joined the New Hampshire Children’s Trust team in 2019 as Director of Advancement. He brings nearly 20 years’ experience in education, fundraising, marketing, and narration. Nathan received a B.A. in English Literature and has a Master of Fine Arts in writing from the University of New Hampshire. His work in academia, community mental health, and advocacy focuses on elevating the stories of everyday people striving to build community. Nathan can be found forever (re)hammering the floor nail of his old house in Durham, NH, where he lives with his wife and two feral sons.

Michelle J. Lennon, founded three community resource centers and now serves as the Executive Director of the Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center. Her interest in the connections of substance use and early childhood trauma was formed, in part, by her own childhood experiences of living with adopted and foster siblings, dealing with Child Protective Service, and the effects of problematic substance use in her family of origin.  Her interest in peer recovery support was influenced by her husband’s experience with opioids after an accident. 

Michelle is a tireless champion of the need to expand strength-based services and education for individuals and families, she has played an integral role in the grass-root efforts to respond to poverty and substance use in the community of Tilton.  As a credentialed Recovery Community Organizations, the Family Resource Centers have been nationally recognized as a model of integrated family support and strengthening and peer recovery support services. 

Michelle’s influence extends beyond NH where she consults with others to expand capacity of community-based support in various settings and organizations such as: the National Opioid Response Network, the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, BeStrong Families of Chicago, the Forever Hope Training Center of Tilton, SOS, The LeMire Group. In New Hampshire, Michelle serves on several local boards of directors and is a pastor of the Northfield-Tilton Congregational Church. She and her husband train Recovery Basics for Families and Recovering Coaching a Harm Reduction Pathway together and have three adult children.

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