Forming a Foundation of Trust


Parenting is simultaneously one of life’s greatest gifts and one of the most terrifying tasks that can be bestowed upon someone. Raising a child is complicated and can be scary, especially when you are doing it alone. Alexander Morales, a 64-year-old single father, has been raising his 5-year-old son Antonio on his own since Antonio was just a few days old. Their situation has not always been easy, but they have found incredible support in Para Las Familias (PLF).
Morales and his son have attended therapy and classes at PLF for about a year, and their therapist, Melissa Donate, spoke on the inspiring improvements they have made. When she met Morales and Antonio, both had difficulty expressing their emotions and communicating. Morales was closed off emotionally, and Antonio had tantrums and behavioral issues, which Morales did not know how to handle. Thankfully, a doctor directed them to PLF.
The positive impact PLF has had on them is clear; Morales smiled wide while sharing that in the 12 months he and his son have been at PLF, “I don’t regret it one minute.”The father and son have formed a trusting and communicative relationship through their family therapy sessions and Morales’ parenting classes at PLF.
PLF works to create security between parent and child, a crucial factor in development. “Our program focuses on attachment,” Donate explained. “With families, parents and children, the most important thing they forget to focus on is the relationship. That is one of the main things we work on here.” Morales and his son show the powerful change the focus on relationships can bring.

The parenting classes at PLF teach parents and guardians how to communicate and understand their children. “We thought they were just acting out, but no, they are not acting out; it is their way of communicating to us,” Morales explained. “We learn to understand when they are crying, why they are crying. They are not crying just to be bratty,” he laughed. “They are crying because something is really bothering them, or something is not right. They want that security, to be hugged and told it is okay.”

Not only is Antonio now excelling in the classroom, but he also openly displays love and trust toward his father, which made Morales beam just talking about it. “My son has had an advantage that other kids have not had,” Morales shared. And to Morales, that advantage could mean a world of difference for Antonio’s future. “You never know; he could be the President. He could be the Mayor,” he said. “Just from this program, the things he learned, the opportunity he had to come here… my son is getting the best.” Para Las Familias gives caregivers like Morales the support they need to do their best. “The parenting tools that I now have in place, along with the therapy have made a world of difference in my life,” stated Morales.

You can help families like Alexander and Antonio by donating funds or volunteering your time and talents. Charitable giving has an invaluable impact on the lives of our clients. For more information about ECS programs or ways to give, visit

PLF staff and ECS leadership proudly accept the Live Well San Diego Public Health Champion Award, acknowledging their exceptional work in promoting health for San Diego County residents by offering outpatient bicultural and bilingual therapy services.

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Esteban Villanueva