MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the city of Memphis has seen more and more crime involving youth, there is a growing fight to find solutions and to help keep kids out of trouble.
Sometimes, it starts at home. One Memphis woman has turned her focus to helping parents.
“We were never meant to do parenting alone — it’s too big of a job,” said Elyse Jones, founder of Parenting for the Culture.
As a parent herself and a school counselor for more than a decade, Jones saw a pattern.
"The way we parent is literally our child’s connection blueprint," Jones said. "It’s their blueprint for how they see the world and the decisions they make."
That is why Jones started her organization.
“My focus is really helping parents heal their inner child while raising one,” Jones said.
With the amount of crime involving youth and many facing a lack of resources, Jones turned her focus from youth to parents.
"I don’t subscribe to the idea that it’s the parents’ fault," she said. "The reality is you can parent a child; dot all the I’s, cross all the t’s and children still make choices because we have different temperaments."
Jones counsels parents on how to address and understand certain behaviors.
"What is happening to us when we’re responding? A lot of times it’s not about the behavior but what’s happening inside of us," she said. "Two — understanding where that child is. What age and stage are they in? Is this development or is it defiance?”
When speaking with adults, Jones said she knows the biggest concern.
"It’s 100% discipline," she said. "It’s like, 'I don’t know what else to do because I’ve tried it all.' A lot of times, a parent who felt hurt in their childhood, now is ... the person in power. They see that as disrespect, but really, it’s triggering something in them that felt unheard as a child. One way to address the anger in our community is by giving our kids a voice.”
It is a voice that starts at home, which most kids tell Jones they wish they had.
“I wish they knew that when they yell at me, that makes me more angry, or I wish they knew that I don’t feel safe talking to them,” Jones said. “When a child does not feel embraced, we’re seeing that in their behavior in the community … A child who does not feel the warmth of the village, will burn it down.”
Jones works with different organizations to reach parents. She also wrote her own E-book helping with parental emotions.
She also participated in ABC24's H.Y.P.E. youth symposium.