Parents trained in talking to teens Camp Blaze seminars emphasize bonding

April 11, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Like many parents, Donna Hurley is learning that the closer her daughter gets to adolescence, the more life changes.

"As the teen becomes older, authority is zero," said the 49-year-old Arnold woman, whose daughter is two years shy of being an official teen-ager.

That's why she joined five other parents Tuesday night at the fourth of six training sessions designed to teach parents how to establish strong bonds with their teen-agers. The sessions are put on by Camp Blaze, a nonprofit group dedicated to strengthening the family.

Tuesday night, Mark Good, a clinical social worker, encouraged parents to make an effort to agree with certain parts of a teen-ager's arguments, maintain eye contact and ask the right questions.

"You really want to do that because it really raises the person up," he said. "It makes him or her more comfortable to make a good decision."

Dr. Good led the group in role-playing exercises in which one person portrayed a teen-ager with a problem and two others acted as parents, using the techniques he explained.

The seminars, held in the offices of the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce, were paid for with a $4,730 grant from the county Department of Health's Division of Mental Health and Addictions.

Mary West, a grant administrator with the division, said the money came from a $60,000 fund that was spread among five community groups that promote youth-oriented activities that enhance drug and alcohol prevention messages.

"We were searching for a community organization that would be able to design a program to improve the quality of parent-children relationships and social bonding," she said. "[Camp Blaze] was one of them."

Cheryl Carnwath, founder of the nonprofit organization, said half the grant was used to fund the first six seminars for couples. The rest will be used this fall to target single parents, she said.

"We want to give parents encouragement that they can still have a positive effect on their children's lives and be able to communicate with them," said Mrs. Carnwath, who sat in on the sessions.

The sessions have taught her that raising her voice undermined her efforts to talk to her 17-year-old son and 16-year-old twin daughter and son, Linda Busciglio of Pasadena said .

"In my family, it was thought that he who yells loudest is heard," said Ms. Busciglio, 46. "But after coming here, I learned that's not the case."

Keith Brau of Annapolis said his biggest problem was overcoming the barriers between him and his 15-year-old daughter.

"I know I sound like my dad when I was young, but there's a generation gap," said Mr. Brau, 32. "The biggest thing is to bridge that gap and reduce conflict."

Mrs. Hurley said she was heartened to learn that many other parents were having the same difficulties she was.

"After seminars like this one, I know I'm not alone," she said.

Pub Date: 4/11/96

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