Today we’d like to introduce you to Mery Nájera Dominguez.
Mery, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story! It is difficult to confine myself to one story or one aspect of my life although I have often thought about this. More than ever, in the past six years of my life when I began my quest for my true purpose. I was born in New Jersey and raised in Miami by amazing Colombian parents. Their constant cultural infusion is what I believe makes me stand out dynamically often in the crowd.
My parents came to this county close to 5o years ago with high expectations and huge dreams. Hard work and challenges did not stop them from staying true to their goals, in a very humble way. As a teenager my plan was to graduate, become a successful attorney and make my parents proud of me, realizing that their efforts paid off.
Unfortunately, things did not quite work out as I anticipated. By 17, I experienced the toughest time of my life. I was ashamed and felt I had let my parents down. I got pregnant and decided to elope with my boyfriend, only to avoid facing my parents’ judgment and the guilt of looking at them and telling them personally the trouble I was in. I was about to start my Senior year at a local private high school, which my parents paid with arduous sacrifice.
For many years I lived wearing the ‘hat of shame.’ My drive to succeed did not stop from beating statistics. I completed FIU on a full-scholarship right out of high school and became a teacher. Fortunately, by now I had already rekindled my relationship with my parents and had a beautiful daughter. Yet I was divorced feeling there was something missing. I focused on continuing my education and pursued a Masters at UM. Later remarried; I was blessed with the man who I now have shared the past 23 years of my life. We have three kids between the both of us. Our youngest is now a Senior in high school.
As I share this story in a nutshell, I realize I’ve put two wonderful girls through high school, and I could not be a more proud mom. The eldest is a Communications Major and has helped me build my company, ParenTeen Moments. It was founded as a sister company to my non-profit organization, The Academy of CLASS (Committed Leaders Achieving Success and Significance), which I started six years ago. It took me years, after a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership to realize that my goal was to help teens become leaders regardless of their circumstances. No one should be ashamed of themselves. We learn from our actions so that we can later choose to inspire and teach others from our lessons.
I also wanted to provide parents an outlet of support and resources — something my parents never had. We were always very close, yet when I felt I failed I felt that their anger would overpower their love for me, This is a feeling I don’t want any teenager to experience. I want parents to understand that everything has a solution as long as there is life and we are provided the right tools.
Last year, after 25 years as a teacher, I decided to take a leap of faith and resign from my teaching career in Miami-Dade County Public Schools to focus on my mission. It is said that there is no manual for parenting. However, I believe that by working together and increasing our connection to each other and our community, we never need to feel as if we are competing with one another. Why should we keep up with the Jones’? Who are they anyways? What’s more, we should never feel alone as parents or neglected as kids.
Society sometimes makes us feel like we aren’t good enough. Many times we carry the wounds of our past and embed them in our children, unconsciously. I know I can help heal that and make a difference. This is why I am now a woman on a mission. My goal is to strengthen and transform over 1 million families. I do this by coaching parents and delivering Parent Workshops at schools and throughout our city. I also train others to do the same. We encourage our communities to be involved in helping parents raise our youth in a way that they too can benefit.
Through their sponsorship, we are able to host fun events at little or no charge for parents and teens, while local businesses get to expand their reach and be a contribution. We want our parents to stay engaged in their teen’s life, and we provide the platform to make this effortless. We believe this way our teens will make wiser choices and feel their parents are wholeheartedly present and supported. Working hard for our kids is good, but it’s rarely their choice of love language. However, creating special moments together is by far the best remedy to a meaningful life-long relationship.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road all along. The struggle has been real! Although, I am grateful for every step. I learned responsibility early on in life as a teen mom. I worked full-time as I attended school on a full-time schedule.
When I decided to leave my job last year, I was already operating on two contracts. What I did not expect was that both companies would lose funding the same year, which meant total loss of my income too. I had planned ahead for about a year, but setting up my company system and getting clear on how I wanted to do that was not simple for me.
The setback, however, has taught me another level of humility and I believe it also taught me to appreciate my husband even more. I never realized the pride I felt in knowing that I could support myself and make my own money. I was raised with the belief of never asking or depending on anyone. Yet know, I have learned the value of support to a different degree.
I’ve learned to stay focused and not give up on my dreams. I understand my purpose. My faith in God, myself and my husband has increased ten-fold, and my connection with my daughters has never been better. I have also been able to care for my aging parents and take them to their doctors’ appointments while setting up my empire.
ParenTeen Moments – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
ParenTeen Moments is a unique company because we provide resources and opportunities for parents to connect not just to each other but to themselves and their pre-teens or teenagers.
I am proud because we are bridging the gaps for parents, schools, and communities. As an educator, I know what schools can provide and their limitations. As a parent, I understand what parents want and need and as a business owner, I have seen what helps businesses grow. By connecting all three, ParenTeen Moments is meeting everyone’s needs, while supporting our youth and their families.
We are proud of our affiliation with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and our current partnerships with local charter schools and non-profit organizations.
We pride ourselves in delivering FUN workshops (funshops) at different venues, schools, and business corporations. We are teaching parents how to truly be engaging. Our goal is for parents to be the best version of themselves and we do this through education and coaching. We believe that by doing this, our kids will be inspired to become the best version of themselves and resilient adults.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There are many proud moments in my career. Yet the proudest one was when I realized that my 25 years as an educator prepared me for what I do today.
Recently, I had a teenager who came with her mom to one of our workshops. She hugged me and thanked me for the workshop I had delivered. She told me, “not only did I have fun, but I felt that you were talking to my mom and to me.
Thank you! We needed to hear everything you said. We learned a lot from this”. This is how ParenTeen Moments is transforming families.
- Website: www.parenteenmmoments.com
- Phone: 786-708-7508
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @parenteenmoments
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parenteenmoments
- Twitter: @meryparenteen
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/parenteen-moments-homestead?osq=parenteen+moments