The mothers crouch down in groups of three for an impromptu puppet show. They use the colourful sock puppets they just made to discuss sensitive topics: bullying, smoking, hygiene and puberty – things that might be hard to bring up with their children.
“Why are you always smoking, my son?” says one puppet.
“I love to smoke,” the child puppet says and turns to the father puppet. “Why are you always smoking, father?”
“I should listen to you and stop,” the third one replies.
The mothers, many single parents from disadvantaged communities around the West Bank in Palestine, applaud after each performance. It quickly becomes clear that this is a useful way for them to discuss difficult subjects with their children. They learn this and other parenting techniques as part of a life skills workshop at the SOS Social Centre in Bethlehem.
Ala’a Fataftah, the Family Strengthening Program Coordinator at SOS Children’s Villages Palestine, says while their situations vary, all these women need support to care for their children, otherwise there is a risk of family breakdown. The parenting workshops are one of the ways SOS Children’s Villages supports female-headed families in the West Bank.
“Through these workshops, I hope that women learn how to be good parents, to never use violence, and that they are a safe haven for their children,” says Ala’a.
Amal, a mother of three children, aged 15, 13 and nine, believes using the sock puppets with her children will help them let go of their worries or negative feelings. “This workshop helps me to be a better mother to my children and help support them in life,” she says. “Hopefully this will happen, and I’ll succeed.”