The Families Connected Parent Chat: Supporting Us so We Can Help Our Youth Thrive

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Thank you for visiting this blog to learn about the Families Connected Parent Chat. Here you will find testimonials from some of the parents who attend the group, but first, a little history and information regarding what the group is all about.

Through our South Bay Families Connected (SBFC) parent focus groups and survey (2016), we kept hearing a consistent message -- parents in our community wanted a way to connect with other parents and share their authentic parenting challenges in a supportive, confidential, and non-judgmental space.

In June 2017,  we reached out to Beach Cities Health District and Thelma McMillen Center to partner in our vision of launching the Families Connected Parent Chat, a free weekly support group that would be open to all parents and caregivers in the South Bay. Dr. Moe Gelbart, Executive Director of the Thelma McMillen Center, agreed to volunteer his time as the group’s professional moderator, and Beach Cities provides the space, promotional support, and coffee. Beach Cities Health District also offers attendees in need of a greater depth of services, like counseling or treatment, with community referral and in-person assistance. They have helped many find the support they need. If you are in need of referral services, please call their referral coordinator at 310-374-3426, ext. 256

We are grateful to both of our partners for helping us make the Parent Chat a success. For my part, I participate as the parent lead bringing insight to the group regarding free online resources and information on the topics we discuss, as well as a weekly communication that features resources on trending topics. Additionally, SBFC promotes the group to all 90 of its Partner Schools through its newsletter and monthly wellness communication that goes through Partner School e-communications. That strategy has helped us bring support to parents throughout the South Bay.

Now two years in, the group is going strong with an average of 10 - 16 parents and caregivers joining Dr. Gelbart and me each week. Topics range from sharing concerns and strategies around helping our kids manage screen time, to supporting kids struggling with anxiety, or depression, or substance use… It’s a long list. No matter what the challenge, all who attend the group share the same goal — to help their children thrive. We are grateful for the positive feedback so many have shared, in particular that the support and insight they have received from the Parent Chat has enabled them to improve their communication strategies with their kids (especially their teens), to identify problems, establish boundaries, and to hear and support the child.they have.

On a personal note, I look forward to starting off my week with the kind, dedicated, and inspiring parents and caregivers in this group. I’m 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 too.

Lastly, we invite you to swing by any Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. to join us. All parents and caregivers are welcome.

- Laura Short McIntire, Producer, the Families Connected Project & SBFC Creative Director

Parent Testimonials

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 that led me to the Monday morning Parent Chat Support Group.

 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.  

- Kelly

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

The Families Connected Parent Chat is provided in partnership with the Thelma McMillen Center and Beach Cities Health District. The group is moderated by Moe Gelbart, PhD.

All South Bay parents are welcome. Please join us.