FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - A 16-year-old would rather talk on his cell phone than clean his bedroom or take out the garbage. What is a parent to do'

Lisa Redmond, Parent Support Program manager at Army Community Service, said the installation's new EMPOWERING Parents of Teens Support Group is a resource that can provide guidance.

Geared to parents of children ages 11 to 18, the support group provides a venue to confidentially discuss the challenges parents encounter with their teens and pre-teens and develop practical solutions that work for all involved.

"Parents who have kids at this age sometimes feel defeated and powerless," Redmond said. "The children want the freedom and flexibility that parents are not ready to give."

The support group, which initially met March 7, meets the first Monday of every month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at School Age Center, 1900 Reece Road. Refreshments and free child care are provided.

Participants must first sign a confidentiality agreement pledging not to repeat anything said within the group.

Redmond, who facilitates the installation's parent support groups, started EMPOWERING after two of her clients told her they needed help with their teens.

"They said they needed some support so they wouldn't feel so alone," she said.

To help facilitate the EMPOWERING support group, Redmond is using the "Active Parenting of Teens" program developed by Dr. Michael H. Popkin, an expert in parent education. The video-based program tackles such common problems as how to respectfully discipline pre-teens and teens; building a child's courage and self-esteem; problem-solving; effective communication skills; and discussing drugs, sexuality and violence.

"The goal is to have a more active style of parenting," Redmond said.

Establishing rules for cell phone and Internet use and enforcing curfews are common problems for parents of adolescents, she said. Despite these challenges, Redmond said the most important goal of a parent with an adolescent child should be to keep the lines of communication open and engage the child in the parenting process.

Redmond said that while parents may want to maintain some control over their children's lives, just as they did when the children were younger, pre-teens and teens want independence and respect.

"They want to know their opinions matter. They want to know they are heard," Redmond said. "It's a hard shift for parents to make."

One goal of the support group is to help parents develop a behavior plan with the child's input that lists behavior issues and the consequences for each problem.

"The parent and teen can both be clear on problems and their solutions," Redmond said.

The cooperation between parent and child, she said, can build a relationship that improves as the child grows.

Two parents who devised a behavior plan at the first meeting said they have since noticed an improvement in their child's behavior.

"It really helped," Redmond said.

For more information about the support group or to arrange child care, call 301-677-3617.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16