POLITICIANS CHALLENGED TO HELP YOUTH AT RISK

23rd  July 2014                                                                                                                            

TOUGHLOVE URGES MORE FUNDING FOR PARENT SUPPORT

TOUGHLOVE has issued a challenge to all of New Zealand’s political parties to state where they stand on helping parents of youth at risk.

The challenge comes just ahead of the organisation’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations in Auckland on Friday 25th July (see details at end of release). 

The gathering’s guest speaker will be distinguished Auckland surgeon and one-time TOUGHLOVE organiser, Professor Pat Alley, who is Director Clinical Training with the Waitemata District Health Board.

“There’s currently considerable  awareness of unacceptable youth behaviour but very  little attention paid to the impact such behaviour has on parents or to the role they should be playing  in pulling young people back from the brink,” says TOUGHLOVE’s  National Spokesperson, Peter Altmann.

“We’re the only organisation in New Zealand specifically founded to help parents cope with youth at risk. During the last three decades, we’ve mentored and supported tens of thousands of mothers and fathers through the pain and disruption caused by their teens’ behaviour. 

“Although we’re grateful for contracted funding from the Ministry of Social Development, there’s a limit to the numbers of parents our tightly-budgeted, overwhelmingly volunteer-based organisation is able to assist without additional income.

 “With the General Election just two months away, we’d like to know just what the various political parties are willing to do to help us perform our vital role in society,” he says.

 “It’s a cause of concern that lack of resources prevents us helping every parent in need.  Well-funded statutory organisations such as CYF, Police Youth Aid and schools (through their School Counsellors)recognise our expertise and send parents to us.  We would really appreciate funding levels appropriate to that expertise and to the job we need to do,” Mr Altmann adds.  

 Key to TOUGHLOVE’s approach are weekly Parent Support Groups, which provide participants with both a sympathetic forum and the opportunity to learn and share effective and proven strategies for coping with youth at risk. Support groups are typically facilitated by parents who have themselves experienced such issues in their own immediate families.  

 Peter Altmann describes unacceptable teenage behaviour as a spectrum that can include violence, defiance, verbal abuse, bullying of siblings, truancy from school, promiscuity, drug or alcohol usage and compulsive gaming.

 Also part of this spectrum are staying out all night, disappearing for days on end, trashing the family home, staying in bed all day, refusing to do homework and behaving in a disrespectful or manipulative manner.

 “All these behaviours can be found across New Zealand, in every social, economic or educational quartile and across all sorts of family units, including nuclear families, single parent families, blended families and those with same-sex parents,” says Mr Altmann.

 “Those who can no longer reason with their teenage children typically suffer a massive loss of confidence.  Shame, grief, stress, worry and embarrassment are also normally part of the mix, in ways that can impact severely on health, put a huge strain on relationships and corrode or destroy families. 

  “Nor is the impact always restricted to the immediate family, as grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends and neighbours can all be affected by a dysfunctional relationship between parent and teen.  Moreover, there’s an economic cost to New Zealand, as stressed-out parents often need to take time off work to cope with family issues.

 “Contrary to a widespread misconception, the name TOUGHLOVE doesn’t mean we

favour a heavy-handed, authoritarian approach.  We advocate clear and consistent boundaries and consequences.  But we also recommend that parents back off from constant arguments. Our name reflects the realisation that parenting is always a tough job and that love is one of its essential ingredients,” he adds.

According to a survey carried out between October 2011 and April 2012 by Wellington-based research company, Litmus Limited, 91 percent of parent attending TOUGHLOVE Support Groups   would recommend the experience to other parents. 

TOUGHLOVE is CYF-accredited, with most parents approaching it either as a result of word-of-mouth endorsement, through referrals from social agencies or though recommendations from health professionals.  Support Groups participation is kept strictly confidential, with newcomers asked to make a one-off payment of just $40. A gold coin donation is expected at subsequent sessions.

TOUGHLOVE employs just four paid staff members, based respectively in Auckland, Canterbury, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. 

Further information about TOUGHLOVE is available at www.toughlove.org.nz  or via the freephone number: 0800 868 445

Editors and reporters please note:

WHAT:  TOUGHLOVE New Zealand’s 30th anniversary celebrations
WHEN:   Friday 25th July (commencing 6.30 pm)
WHERE: 
Quality Hotel Lincoln Green, 159 Lincoln Road, Auckland 0610
SPEECH:  By Professor Pat Alley ( 7.45 pm) to be followed by discussion panel 
 

 For comment, please contact:

Peter Altmann
National Spokesperson
TOUGHLOVE New Zealand
09 520 5048

peterzzz@ihug.co.nz

or

Geoff Andrews
Chief Executive Officer
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 624 4363
0210 546240

toughlove.auck@xtra.co.nz

Released by Ian Morrison of Matter of Fact Communications

Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220, Email: info@matfact.co.nz

 

DON’T STAND IDLY BY WHILST LEGAL HIGHS RUIN TEENAGE LIVES

TOUGHLOVE issues list of recommendations for parents of drug-taking teens

Parents don’t need to stand idly by, whilst their teenage children ruin their own lives and those of other family members through use of legal highs, says TOUGHLOVE.

 The parent support organisation has issued a list of recommendations (see attachment) for parents who suspect their teen might be experimenting with legal highs or other drugs.

Where drug use is suspected,  the list recommends  parents should search their homes for substances and confiscate any found.  The search should also extend to their teens’ bedrooms.

In addition, TOUGHLOVE  urges parents with drug-using teenagers to make contact with the organisation, either via its website www.toughlove.org.nz or by telephoning its freephone helpline 0800 868 445.  And it  recommends participation in a local TOUGHLOVE Parent Support Group. 

Now in its thirtieth year of operations, TOUGHLOVE has helped tens of thousands of New Zealand parents cope with the trauma of unacceptable teen behaviour through Support Group participation.  Parents of teenagers using legal highs are currently amongst those whom the organisation is helping.

“The surge of concern over legal highs has also underscored the devastating impact that teenage drug abuse in general can have, not only on the lives, health and well-being of the young people themselves but also on those of their parents and siblings,” says veteran Auckland Support Group facilitator, Peter Altmann.

“When  parents see their much-loved children harming themselves and others through substance abuse, a typical and understandable reaction is to blame Society in general and to support calls for stronger anti-drug legislation. 

“There may well be a case for tougher legislation.  But, on its own, this approach will do  little to help either a drug-dependent teen or a parent whose self-confidence and peace of mind are in shreds because of a situation they can’t control,” he says.        

“For this reason, we recommend that parents declare their homes to be ‘drug free zones’ and, if they suspect their teenagers are using drugs, they should search the house, including the teens’ bedrooms, for any suspect substances or related implements.   

“It shouldn’t matter to a parent whether or not the drugs are legal or illegal.  You have a right and a duty to your children to keep all drugs off your property,” Mr Altmann adds.   

“Another temptation is for parents to avoid confrontation. This too is understandable. But whilst you pretend to ignore a teenage drug problem, your teen’s physical and mental health might be in jeopardy, as might be your own safety and that of your other children.

“It’s important not to let matters fester. But, equally, it’s important not to respond to the situation with anger, as you’re then likely to start a pointless slanging match or worse,” he says.

Mr Altmann points out that TOUGHLOVE Support Groups are all run by parents who’ve experienced at first hand the worry, hopelessness and heartache that can result from inappropriate teenage behaviour.  They are, he says, non-judgmental, supportive and well-trained in the proven strategies that TOUGHLOVE recommends.

“One thing we stress is that there are no quick fixes for coping with out-of-control teens and that parents, just as much as their children, may well need to change their behaviour.

 “There’s a widespread misconception that TOUGHLOVE stands for a harsh and punitive approach.  But that’s simply not our position. Instead, we stress that teenagers need a clear sense of structure, boundaries and consequences.  Our name reflects the realisation that parenting is a tough job and that love is an essential part of it,” he adds.

TOUGHLOVE Parent Support Groups meet on weekday evenings, with participation kept strictly confidential.  Newcomers pay a one-off sum of just $40, with a gold coin donation expected at subsequent sessions.

Further information about TOUGHLOVE is available at www.toughlove.org.nz or by telephoning the freephone helpline, 0800 868 445.

For further comment, please contact:

Peter Altmann
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 520 5048  021 355 522

peterzzz@ihug.co.nz

 or

 Geoff Andrews
Chief Executive Officer
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 624 4363  0210 546240

toughlove.auck@xtra.co.nz

 

Released by Ian Morrison of Matter of Fact Communications

Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220, Email: info@matfact.co.nz

FRESH START FOR PARENTS IN 2014

 The beginning of the working year may well be the time to do something positive about unacceptable teenage behaviour, says the parent support organisation, TOUGHLOVE.

“For many families, the summer break may not have been the time of relaxation and enjoyment they were hoping for.  Instead, long-simmering issues of teen behaviour may have boiled to the surface, causing tension, trauma and all-round unhappiness for the entire family.

“In other cases, long-recognised problems may not been resolved by time together as a family, leaving parents drained and suffering from a sense of hopelessness and failure, even before the working year gets under way,” says TOUGHLOVE Auckland’s CEO, Geoff Andrews. 

“However, the commencement of a new working year can also be the time for a fresh approach to solving problems which, if unaddressed, have the potential to destroy families and wreck the lives of parent and child alike.  A good way to start is to contact TOUGHLOVE, by telephoning our freephone number (0800 868 445) or visiting our website (www.toughlove.org.nz),” he adds.

This year, TOUGHLOVE will celebrate thirty years of running Parent Support Groups across New Zealand, providing a sympathetic forum for tens of thousands of demoralised mothers and fathers, along with the opportunity to learn and share effective and proven strategies for coping with unacceptable teen behaviour.       

Such behaviour can range from failure to do homework or refusal to help around the house to defiance, truancy from school, promiscuity, the abuse of other family members, drug or alcohol usage or staying out all night.  And, sometimes, a parent might be living in fear of a potentially violent son or daughter, who might also be a threat to younger siblings.

“Typically, those attending our support groups are sensible and conscientious people, who’ve been dragged down by situations they’d have thought completely manageable, until it happened to them and their child.  Shame, grief, embarrassment, zero self-esteem and a range of stress-related medical symptoms are the norm, with many describing themselves as ‘jelly fish parents’.

 “Unacceptable teenage behaviour is found right across New Zealand, in every social, economic or educational quartile and across all sorts of family units, including single parent families, blended families, nuclear families and families with same-sex parents.  If not adequately dealt with, it can have a devastating effect on relationships and totally blight the lives, educational achievements and prospects of the young people concerned.    

“Nor does teen behaviour just affect the nuclear family. It can also impact on grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, friends, neighbours and even work colleagues,” says Mr Andrews, adding that TOUGHLOVE receives many calls from grandparents, concerned about the stresses on their sons and daughters, as a result of their grandchildren’s unacceptable behaviour.

“It can take courage, emotional honesty and self-knowledge for parents to admit that they can’t cope unaided and need to reach out for support.  But, once parents are willing to acknowledge that they do have a problem and want things to change, TOUGHLOVE can normally help them to ensure that this change actually happens.  

“Our support group facilitators aren’t professionals but volunteers who’ve all been through similar experiences and come out the other side with restored confidence, enhanced insight and, in most cases, improved health and well-being. They won’t lay down the law as to what stressed parents should do but they will help them set practical, weekly goals aimed at improving the situation at home.  

“Contrary to a widespread misconception, TOUGHLOVE does NOT stand for a harsh and punitive approach to dealing with out-of-control teens.  Instead, we stress that teenagers need a clear sense of structure, boundaries and consequences. Our name reflects the realisation that parenting is a tough job and that love will always be an essential part of it,” says Mr Andrews.

A survey completed in 2012 found that 91 percent of parents attending TOUGHLOVE groups would recommend the experience to other parents.

Further information concerning TOUGHLOVE is available at www.toughlove.org.nz or by telephoning the freephone number: 0800 868 445.

For comment, please contact:

Geoff Andrews
Chief Executive Officer
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 624 4363   0210 546240

toughlove.auck@xtra.co.nz

 

PARENTS URGED TO FIND TIME FOR TEENS

TOUGHLOVE issues checklist for Christmas and its lead-up

 TOUGHLOVE is calling on parents to use the upcoming holiday period to reconnect with their teenage children.

 The parent support organisation also advises mums and dads to prioritise time with their teens during the busy and often stressful weeks leading up to Christmas, despite the many other calls on their schedules.

 In addition, TOUGHLOVE has issued a fifteen point checklist (see attachment), aimed at helping parents of teenagers cope with both the holiday season and the weeks leading up to it.  The checklist can be viewed at  http://www.toughlove.org.nz/

 “We’ve put our checklist together because this time of year has characteristic stresses which can precipitate unacceptable teenage behaviour and family dysfunction,” says TOUGHLOVE Auckland spokesperson and Parent Support Group Facilitator, Peter Altmann.  

 “Most of us find there’s barely enough time to do all that we need to do before Christmas. As we rush to take advantage of every available minute, we may well stop communicating with family members, even though they’re living under the same roof as us.  This can have serious consequences for parent-child relationships.

 “We also tend to have expectations of enjoying ourselves in the midst of our families on Christmas Day.  But, all too often, our time together can be the occasion when simmering resentments boil over.     

 “However, both the holiday period and its lead-up can, if handled intelligently, provide an opportunity for rebuilding frayed relationships, helping teenagers back onto positive paths and avoiding parental and family meltdown in the year ahead,” he says.

 Amongst other recommendations, the checklist suggests that parents encourage teens to look for holiday jobs or, if they’re not going back to school, to draft a CV. 

 The list also includes ways to encourage teens to assist around the house.  And it recommends asking them to help organise the family’s Christmas celebrations and/or prepare part of the Christmas dinner. A key focus is on providing teens with positive reinforcement for good behaviour by praising their efforts around the house rather than nitpicking. 

 The checklist stresses, however, that parents have the right to expect their teenagers to be at home on Christmas Day if that is their family’s custom.   

 A further recommendation is that parents discuss holiday plans with their teens well in advance of Christmas.   

 “It’s obviously important to find out what your teenager wants to do over the holiday period and, if possible, accommodate this in your plans.  But you might discover your teen has a hitherto undisclosed scheme to attend a beach party in a totally different part of the country to where you intend being,” says Peter Altmann. 

 “In these circumstances, instead of getting angry and sparking confrontation, you might prefer to enquire about the details of your teenager’s plans and point out the pitfalls. The allure of the beach party might then suddenly evaporate. But, obviously, the sooner you get wind of it, the better,” he adds.  

 Meanwhile, the checklist warns parents against seeking to buy good behaviour with expensive Christmas presents.  And it states that, if a teen is behaving unacceptably, parents might consider reducing the size of his or her present.  If they adopt this approach, parents should be prepared to explain why.  

 The checklist also cautions parents against thinking they can switch-off totally from their responsibilities whilst away on holiday.  Instead of collapsing into a deckchair, it recommends that they explore new activities with their teenagers, teaching them new skills and developing new dimensions to their relationship with their children.

 And a final recommendation is that parents get in touch with TOUGHLOVE (on 0800 868 445), if they find themselves at the end of their tether as a result of unacceptable teen behaviour over the holiday period, or at any other time.        

  TOUGHLOVE has been running weekly Parent Support Groups across New Zealand since the 1980s, offering a sympathetic forum for tens of thousands of demoralised parents, along with   the opportunity to learn and share proven and effective strategies for dealing with unacceptable teenage behaviour. 

 Such behaviour can range from failure to do homework or refusal to help around the house to the abuse of other family members, drug or alcohol usage, staying out all night or taking the family car on joyrides.   And, sometimes, a parent might be living in fear of a potentially violent son or daughter, who might also be a threat to younger siblings.

  “Typically, those attending our support groups are sensible and conscientious people, who’ve been dragged down by situations they’d have thought completely manageable, until it happened to them and their child.  Shame, grief, embarrassment and zero self-esteem are the norm.

 “Our group facilitators aren’t professionals but they’ve all been through similar experiences and come out the other side with restored confidence and enhanced insight.

 “There’s a widespread misconception that TOUGHLOVE stands for a harsh and punitive approach to dealing with out-of-control teens.  That’s simply not our position.  Instead, we stress that teenagers need a clear sense of structure, boundaries and consequences. Our name reflects the realisation that parenting is a tough job and that love is an essential part of it,” says Peter Altmann.

 A survey conducted last year found that 91 percent of parents attending TOUGHLOVE groups would recommend the experience to other parents.

 Peter Altmann and his wife Sandra Altmann are both long-serving TOUGHLOVE volunteers.  Last week, the Remuera couple received a Kiwibank Local Heroes medal, as part of the 2014 New Zealander of the Year Awards

 Information concerning TOUGHLOVE is available at www.toughlove.org.nz or by telephoning the freephone number: 0800 868 445.

 For comment, please contact:
Peter
Altmann
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 520 5048 021 355 522

peterzzz@ihug.co.nz

 or

 Geoff Andrews
Chief Executive Officer
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 624 4363   0210 546240

toughlove.auck@xtra.co.nz

 Released by Ian Morrison of Matter of Fact Communications

Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220, Email: info@matfact.co.nz

 

 

EMPLOYEES COME UNDER PRESSURE AS TEENS BEHAVE BADLY

Employers urged to show understanding and support

Employers are being urged to show understanding for employees, who are under pressure at home from the unacceptable behaviour of teenage children.

The parent support organisation, TOUGHLOVE, says the problem is widespread throughout New Zealand, cuts across socio-economic and cultural differences and is often to blame when hitherto exemplary employees appear less attentive and committed to their work.

“Understandably, employers prefer staff to leave personal problems at home.  But, in the real world, this isn’t always possible and it’s not unusual for good employers to be supportive at times of bereavement, relationship difficulties or family illness.

“Similarly, we would also ask them to be supportive when they know that an employee is trying to cope with a teenage child who is behaving unacceptably,” says Geoff Andrews, Chief Executive Officer of TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.

“We would suggest that companies cut such parents a bit of slack if they require time off to, for example, discuss their child’s behaviour with the school dean.  And we’d also ask employers to think about recommending TOUGHLOVE’s services to employees in this situation.

“With our input, the employee may well be transformed back into the motivated, focussed and competent person who was originally employed.

“In fact, the skills, self-knowledge and self-confidence typically achieved by parents involved with TOUGHLOVE, might make them even more valuable employees than they were before their family crisis erupted.  Moreover, they may be all the more loyal and committed because of their employer’s understanding attitude,” he says.

Mr Andrews also recommends that employers bring TOUGHLOVE in to facilitate half day in-house workshops for parents of teenagers.  These too, he says, might help employees cope with otherwise apparently insurmountable problems at home, whilst making them more effective team members.   

TOUGHLOVE has been in operation across New Zealand since the 1980s, helping tens of thousands of distressed parents reclaim their own and their children’s lives from meltdown.  The organisation’s weekly parent support groups are held during evenings and are run by local volunteers who have all experienced for themselves the trauma of dealing with teenagers who behave unacceptably.        

“Such behaviour can simply be a matter of playing truant, not doing homework or behaving disrespectfully to other family members.  But it could also be something more serious , such as the teenager experimenting with drugs, alcohol or promiscuity or, worse still, engaging in violence so that other family members, including younger siblings, are no longer safe,” Mr Andrews explains.         

“When parents aren’t able to stop this type of behaviour, they typically suffer a massive loss of confidence.  Shame, grief, worry and embarrassment are also normally part of the mix, in ways that can impact on health, put a huge strain on relationships and, all too often, impair the parent’s ability to perform in their place of employment.

“We understand that employers have many other pressing issues to deal with. Even so, we would recommend a supportive attitude to employees coping with troublesome teens. Apart from anything else, this approach may well be the best way of optimising a return on the time, effort and money expended on training-up good staff members.  

“There’s a widespread misconception that TOUGHLOVE stands for a harsh and punitive approach to dealing with out-of-control teens.  That’s simply not our position. Instead, we believe that teenagers need a clear sense of structure, boundaries and consequences and that, above all, they need consistency.  Our name reflects the realisation that parenting is a tough job and that love is an essential part of it,” he says.

Mr Andrews adds that parents may not always be willing to volunteer information about their rebellious teenage children to colleagues or employers. He recommends sensitivity and a non-prying and non-judgmental attitude when broaching the topic.

TOUGHLOVE is CYF-accredited, with participation kept strictly confidential.  According to a survey carried out between October 2011 and April 2012 by Wellington-based research company, Litmus Limited, 91 percent of parents attending TOUGHLOVE groups would recommend the experience to other parents.

Of those surveyed, 84 percent also agreed that TOUGHLOVE had given them the confidence to deal with their teens, whilst providing them with the skills needed to change their own reactions and behaviour. Meanwhile, 32 percent agreed that involvement with TOUGHLOVE had led to better education, training and employment opportunities for their teens.

Further information concerning TOUGHLOVE is available at www.toughlove.org.nz or by telephoning the freephone number: 0800 868 445.

For further comment, please contact:

Geoff Andrews
Chief Executive Officer
TOUGHLOVE Auckland Inc.
09 624 4363   0210 546240

toughlove.auck@xtra.co.nz