Parenting classes focus on teens, disabled youths, alcoholics' children

September 05, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

It's been said that parenting is the most difficult job in the world, even under the best of circumstances.

Staff members at the Family Life Center in Columbia obviously think the old axiom is more true now than ever, and the center is offering three new parenting classes this fall tailored for specific groups of parents.

"We saw a greater need for more parenting classes because families are different and parenting programs need to be different," said Jane Walker, the center's executive director.

A class called "Discovering Normal" will address the needs of parents who are adult sons and daughters of alcoholics. Another class, called "You and Your Adolescent," will focus on the difficult teen-age years. This class, the result of a partnership between the the Family Life Center and Oakland Mills Middle School, will include issues specific to African-American families.

"Coping Skills," the third class, is designed to help parents of emotionally disturbed children.

The private, nonprofit mental health center provides services based on the client's ability to pay. Fees for the three new classes will range from $45 to $90, Ms. Walker said.

In "Discovering Normal," group members will explore how growing up in an alcoholic household influences their parenting.

"Parents who were raised in a home with alcoholics often had to assume the role of the parents," Ms. Walker said. "When it comes to bringing up their own children, they don't know what normal is."

Dotty Rodbell, the social worker who will lead the group, said that in many alcoholic households, parents often have unrealistic expectations of their children. They may expect perfection or they may expect nothing.

Adult children of alcoholics also are more likely to have grown uwith emotional or physical abuse.

pTC "Often, what they learned is not what they want to repeat, but they don't know how to do that," Ms. Rodbell said.

The class geared toward parents of teen-agers came about after Oakland Mills Middle School asked the Family Life Center to work with the school in a partnership to develop such a program.

"I think all parents could benefit from a program like this, not just parents at Oakland Mills," said Larry Cohen, the principal at Oakland Mills. "Being a parent is the one thing we don't go to school for."

The class, which is not limited to Oakland Mills parents, will address issues that are especially important during the adolescent years, such as self-esteem and communication between parent and child, said Barbara Murdock, the family therapist who will lead the group.

Ms. Murdock said the class will also discuss subjects specific to African-American youths, including self-image and racial identity.

Parents in the Coping Skills class for emotionally disturbed children may have a child who has been in a psychiatric hospital or a special education program.

For more information about parenting classes, call the Family Life Center at 997-3557.

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