Mothers are becoming better parents from prison
The hardest aspect of being an inmate at Christchurch Women's Prison for Nicky* is being separated from her two children.
The mum, in her late 20s, says the time spent away from her kids while serving a sentence for perverting the course of justice has been "heartbreaking".
But she's grabbing the opportunity to better her parenting skills by becoming one of the first inmates to complete the newly introduced Brainwave parenting programme. It is being run supplementary to an existing Plunket's Parenting in Prisons course.
"Due to life experiences and poor choices that I made earlier on in life I was an inactive parent for my oldest son. I had issues with offending and I missed out with him."
As a child, Nicky's mother was in and out of her life and her grandfather stepped in to raise her.
Growing up with absent parents and being exposed to intergenerational violence are some of the themes most of the 11 participants in the Brainwave programme have faced.
"I was brought up around abuse, alcohol and gangs, that's all I knew as a kid," explains an inmate during a parenting classroom session.
"If I did something wrong I'd get the bash. The parenting style we're being taught is really different from how we were raised."
Corrections principal adviser of rehabilitation and learning Maree Hanford says the aim is to break this anti-social behaviour and provide violence-free homes for their children.
Of the 132 inmates in Christchurch Women's Prison, about 90 per cent are mothers.
"Thinking about what we want to do differently from how we were raised is the basis for this course," says Plunket's parenting educator Laura Hall.
"It's really hard to parent differently to the example their parents set, but it's important they learn they can change.
"When we know better we can do better."
Nicky says the Brainwave course has taught her how to retrain her brain so she's able to make rational choices and move away from the thoughts and behaviours that led to her being in prison and away from her children.
She hopes to be released soon and return to her children.
"I've been given a set of fresh eyes and I'm eager to get out and put it into practise with my kids.
"I want to be attentive for my son who is going through some trouble at the moment and teach him discipline not punishment."
Christchurch Men's Prison and Otago Corrections Facility also deliver the Brainwave and parenting programmes.
*Name changed to protect her identity.