In a blink of an eye, my husband and I found ourselves raising a teenager. Always active in the lives of our three sons, ages 15, 12, and 9, nothing quite prepared us for the terrain of our eldest son's adolescent landscape. Along with the anticipated emotional and physical changes that accompany this stage, a tricky set of issues ranging from depression, drugs, alcohol, social media, sexual harassment, and academic pressures also came flooding in. In an era with so many technological advances making resources readily available, my husband and I still found ourselves overwhelmed by the day to day rollercoaster consuming our household. Desperate for guidance, I came upon SouthBayFamiliesConnected.org that led me to the Monday morning Parent Chat Support Group (provided in partnership with Beach Cities Health District)
It is my experience that this forum provides the invaluable opportunity for our community to share in the challenges of parenthood/grandparenthood. In this safe and moderated space we can share our stories, our fears, our pain, our worries, our questions and our concerns. The most significant revelation for me, is noting how parents, including myself, can experience our own vulnerability while parenting our children. These parenting experiences can trigger personal fears, insecurities and or unresolved childhood issues.
I am slowly coming to understand that the powerful effect of the parent support group is not in the "quick fix" or “solution”, but rather in the process of how we support and offer empathy to each other. I leave each group session with my feelings validated. This validation is empowering and thus allows me to empower my children to empower themselves. There is faith that together, as a parent community, we can arm our children with the tools to navigate the world for themselves.
I am forever grateful to the founders and to the vision that is South Bay Families Connected. I am inspired to be part of a community that is open to grow and to evolve. I feel hopeful that the Families Connected online resource galleries, blogs, videos, Speaker Series, the Parent Chat, and the open conversations will create a shift that moves us toward a deeper connection to ourselves and to each other.
I went to my first Parent Chat slightly apprehensive, not knowing what to expect or what I'd feel comfortable sharing. I left that one session feeling completely connected to the others and very much looking forward to the next meeting. It's a safe, comfortable place for parents in our community to come together and discuss anything and everything. I find myself jotting down a thought that I know would be great to hash out with this group of parents. It's a great compliment to my own friends and family members, and a way to connect with others who are in the trenches right along with us.
- Carrie Gonzalez
The Monday Morning Parent Chat is an invaluable resource for parents of adolescents. Every Monday, we have one hour to share concerns and hear from other parents about the challenges that parents and teenagers face. Topics range from setting limits and how to communicate with our kids to cell phone use and issues involving alcohol, vaping and drugs. As parents, I think we all want to feel like we’re doing the best we can raising our kids. Yet the teen years can be tumultuous and there are few places to really talk about the challenges without feeling judged. SBFC provides a safe place to share concerns and learn from one another. It’s great to learn from people who have older kids and to feel that sharing our own challenges can help families with younger kids. The group is facilitated by a down to earth, compassionate therapist who guides the conversation and doesn’t give simplistic solutions. He holds space for all the emotions and experiences in the room. I am very grateful to Laura McIntire for creating this group for parents of adolescents.
- Carol Adler
For me personally, I find great comfort in being able to talk and listen to other parents who have similar issues with our teenagers in today's world.
We live in a wonderful community and to have this opportunity to come together and talk in confidence about things that come across our everyday lives is an amazing tool. There are no right answers but through knowledge and understanding I have found my voice to help me better communicate with my own family.
This support group gives me a chance to be humble and vulnerable and be open to the views of other parents and know that we can talk in confidence and not be judged. Everyone has a story, and everyone has a voice.
Thank-you for your time.
- Helen Velvin
Wow, the weekly follow-up emails that Laura sends to the group to connect us with resource pages on the SBFC website that are related to the topics we discuss, like technology use, social media, etc., are very helpful and interesting. Thanks very much!
- Caring Grandfather
Through our SBFC patent focus groups and survey, we kept hearing a consistent message -- parents in our community want a way to connect with other parents, and to share their authentic parenting challenges in a supportive, confidential, and non-judgmental environment. In June 2017, I approached Beach Cities Health District for the space and promotional support (a huge help), and Thelma McMillen Center to provide the group moderator (the key component). Both organizations were all in, and the Families Connected Parent Chat was launched in mid September, 2017.
Truth be told, I had no plans on attending beyond a monthly check-in, not because I think I'm a pro at parenting -- not by a long shot - but because our two eldest have grown and flown, and we're only down to one high-schooler under our roof. Plus, while I love the concept of support groups, I just hadn't actually experienced one, so why start now? Pretty sure you know where this is going.... Apparently dedicating an hour a week to reflecting on my parenting intentions, and gathering with others who want to do the same, turns out to be exactly what i needed.
Every Monday morning at 10, I look forward to drinking coffee (thank you, BCHD) with the interesting, kind, and inspiring people in this group. Part of the secret sauce, at least for me, is the fact that this is a completely different dynamic than the one I have with my friends and family. Though I don't have any personal history with anyone in the group, and I don't even know their kids, I am grateful to have the opportunity to listen to everyone's diverse stories and challenges, and I truly appreciate receiving their support and insight when I need it.
Back to the spark for the Parent Chat.... it definitely came from the feedback I received from parents in our community (surveys, focus groups, advisory committees, and the rest). And to my surprise, I'm apparently right in there with them.
- Laura Short McIntire, Creative Director and Curator, SBFC