Parents Learn to Talk Tough Love 

Parents Learn to Talk Tough Love 
Posted by FoM on February 20, 2000 at 10:50:40 PT
By Nedra Lindsey
Source: Los Angeles Times
'Because I Love You' is both the name and the mantra of a group dealing with troubled teens. Almost every month, his daughter would come home to Venice from a weekend visit with a friend, feeling dizzy, out of sorts and nauseated to the point of vomiting.   He thought she was sick. After all, his wife usually comforted and cleaned up the 11-year-old without suggesting any other cause. 
  That scenario, along with her increasing delinquency, played itself out for about three years, until his daughter confessed.   "She said, 'Dad, I have a problem with alcohol,"' her father said. "I tried to think rationally and be cool and calm. But my head was stuck in the sand. My wife knew, but being from a family of alcoholics, she thought she could handle our daughter herself."   Ultimately, they discovered, their daughter had been using alcohol, marijuana and LSD.   She was sent to a treatment center and kicked out after three months.   They didn't get the help they really needed until a neighbor saw the 14-year-old arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after an attempt to kill her mother.   The neighbor directed the distraught father to a local parents' group. The next night, he attended the meeting of an organization called Because I Love you -- or BILY -- a support group for parents of children with behavioral problems, which meets at Venice High School on Thursday nights.   "The first question I had was, 'Why our kid?' And then I thought, 'Well, why anybody's child?"' he said. "We were feeling bad. But at BILY, we learned that our daughter's mistakes weren't our fault. And that parents shouldn't be blamed for their children's behavior."   Escaping the feeling of victimhood is the cornerstone of BILY's philosophy, one that led the parents of the 14-year-old to press charges against their daughter, putting her in a treatment center.   In fact, the group's motto -- reestablishing parental control in the home, while simultaneously removing the burden of responsibility for a child's actions -- was among the first guidelines BILY's founders developed in 1982.   "Parents who come to the group learn that if they want their child to change, they [the parents] will have to change," said BILY's principal founder, Dennis Poncher, who started the group while dealing with two troubled teenage children. Since BILY's initial meetings in Poncher's living room, the group has grown to more than 100,000 members in 20 states.   As outlined in the organization's program, parents must understand their role in the family. At BILY, that position is obvious: Parents are No. 1.   "Most parents who come to us have become second-class citizens in their own homes," the program's founders say in the group's literature. "They have allowed their children to control their lives. We have been told by all of the experts that we must treat our children as equals and be sensitive to all of their wants and desires. This advice has led to a generation of self-centered children."   New members are advised to create a log book of their child's activities, a journal of their private thoughts and a list of rules for their household.   The point of it all, organizers say, is to make children understand that there are consequences for every action.   "We tell parents with children who runaway to file a police report so that they are not liable for things their children damage while gone," said Don Danforth, a Santa Monica resident and coordinator of the Venice site. "Your kids need to understand the idea of responsibility, so that they will be prepared to enter into adulthood."   The organization's decision-making body and group leaders are all parents, a fact that Poncher said makes it stronger despite not having any "expert" input.   "I have the two best credentials of anyone. I have two children," Poncher said. "Very often therapists themselves can't relate to the parents' situation because they don't have any children. But I'd put myself against any psychiatrist or therapist any day." Published: Sunday, February 20, 2000 Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times Related Articles from CannabisNews on Parents - over 350 Articles:
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