Tough Love at work
Parents of wayward teens are continuing to find solace in a self-help group that has just welcomed its 2000th member.
Tough Love North Shore began in 1991 and has since helped to piece together households broken apart by strained relationships between parents and their children.
Co-ordinator Jacquie Jarry first walked through the doors of Tough Love desperate for help to get through to her teenage sons.
Fifteen years later and the Beach Haven woman is now reaching out to people in the same predicament.
"We are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
"I see these people come in quite broken, quite distraught. They are at their wits' end, they've tried and tried and they feel helpless."
Tough Love is a national network of support groups that meet weekly to share strategies to combat unacceptable behaviour.
Parents can drop in or are referred on by Child Youth and Family, the police and counsellors.
Over the past two decades, Mrs Jarry says there has remained a common thread to the problems families are experiencing.
Under-age drinking, drug use, truancy, early age sex and rebellious activities are typical, she says.
"Usually one parent is the enabler and rescuer, if the kid gets in trouble they're paying the fines, bailing them out, even doing their homework. And one is the controller," Mrs Jarry says.
"There is a war going on between the couple and the kid is having a field day."
The first step is getting parents to realise they need to change themselves if they want to change their teen's ways, Mrs Jarry says.
"It's about empowering the parents, not disempowering the teen," she says.
"We do a crisis assessment to look at all the things they're having trouble with.
"I describe it as a CD rack. We work on one thing at a time, you're not going to play 10 CDs at once."
Seeing the parents rediscover happiness in their families is all the reward she needs, Mrs Jarry says.
"These are people who have got holes in their walls where their teenagers have gone berserk," she says.
"They've put up with this culture of anarchy for so long that they've lost themselves and so to see their situation spiralling up is so satisfying."
Go to toughlove.org.nz for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have the new speed limit rules made you change your driving habits?