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