'When you want to change something, you can do it' Rosibel Quirós Abarca is the mother of two boys. Photographer: José Gallo Rosibel Quirós Abarca is unlike many of the mothers who come to the SOS Children's Villages family strengthening programme near Tres Ríos, Costa Rica, because she has a good family support structure. However, she was afraid of her own reactions, of her inexperience as a mother and of taking out her frustrations on her children and she decided to participate in the training offered to struggling caregivers. "I’ve never hit my kids, but I did get really angry and shouted a lot", she says. "Even when my second kid was born, I used to blame the oldest for everything that happened to the baby. For example, if he fell, it was the 4-year–old’s fault because he had not taken care or he behaved badly." Rosibel, 26, is married and had her first child at age 18, when she was not expecting or planning for it. Four years later, she became a mother for the second time, also unplanned. "It was not easy for me to be a mom, because my mother did not live with me and I had no guidance. I did not know how to do it. If I was scared, I do not want to know how a single mother feels like in that situation. Sometimes we believe that what we see and hear from relatives or the way they raised us are the right ways, but then you go to a workshop - like this one I attended - and you realize that there are many other ways to handle parenthood," explains Rosibel. Attending such a workshop was not in her plans either, but the nursery her children attended invited her to be part of a "parenting course". Without much more details, but with the support of one of the teachers who believed in her desire to learn, Rosibel decided to ask for help from her mother-in-law to accommodate her schedules and to look after the children, and she signed up. Perfect attendance There were three different levels over approximately two years, one day a week. Rosibel never missed a class. Not even when the nursery closed and they had to move the workshop to the library in Cartago City. The levels were divided into themes, such as "Raising them with love”, "Self-care" and a third about companies or organisations that participants could go to in order to continue improving, both personally and as parents. "The first stage of raising your children with love served me well. Sometimes I go back to that moment after I started the course and I noticed that I no longer shouted any more. I still get angry, but I think the training has helped me a lot when it came to my reactions," says Rosibel. "At first it was hard because one gets used to screaming. Sometimes my older son went to the course with me because I had no one to leave him with, and when we went home and I reacted, it was he who said to me, 'Did you forget about the course?' But when you want to change something, you can do it." Rosibel finished the course and still enquires at SOS Children's Villages if there are more courses for her to attend. She acknowledges that it was there that she learned to "count to ten and taking a deep breath before getting angry". "I have learned to control myself a lot, to talk to my children in a different way and to spend more time with them. I have the advantage of working at home, so I can do that," she says. The changes are not only known in her family, but among the clients of the beauty salon where she works. "They cannot believe that my children listen to me when I tell them things. They even tell me that they are going to bring their children for me to educate them. But I tell them that everything is a process," explains Rosibel. The days of uncontrolled anger and blaming others are already part of her past. Rosibel Quirós Abarca sits with one of her children. Photo by José Gallo Read more about SOS Children's Villages Costa Rica.