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Toughlove to Mark Thirty Years of Service

Helping Parents of Youth at Risk

Toughlove to Mark Thirty Years of Service

An organisation that plays a key role in helping parents of youth at risk is to mark its thirtieth anniversary later this month.

Over the last three decades, TOUGHLOVE New Zealand has provided supportive weekly forums and tried and tested strategies for coping, to tens of thousands of parents, faced with the stress and trauma of inappropriate teenage behaviour within their own families.

The anniversary is to be celebrated with a gathering of TOUGHLOVE's Parent Support Group facilitators and other volunteers from across New Zealand at Auckland's Quality Hotel Lincoln Green on the evening of Friday 25th July (see details at end of release).

The gathering is to be addressed by the Minister for Social Development, the Hon. Paula Bennett. In addition, a panel of volunteers will be discussing issues facing parents.

"Our thirtieth birthday comes at a time of heightened concern over youth at risk, which certainly acts as a reminder of how much work remains to be done," says TOUGHLOVE's National Spokesperson, Peter Altmann.

"Even so, it's no mean feat for a tightly-funded, largely volunteer organisation to have freed so many parents from the pit of despair into which they'd been cast by the inappropriate behaviour of the children they love.

"Such behaviour can take many forms. Perhaps a teen regularly plays truant from school, fails to do homework or has developed a taste for alcohol, drugs or promiscuity. Alternatively, he or she may be using home as a dumping ground, failing to help with housework, staying out all hours, going missing for days at a time or taking the family car on joy-rides.

"And, sometimes, a parent might be facing worse problems; living in fear of a potentially violent son or daughter and worrying about whether other children and family members are safe," he says.

Mr Altmann adds that most parents attending TOUGHLOVE Support Groups are sensible and conscientious people dragged down by situations they would have thought completely manageable until it happened to them and their child.

"Shame, grief, embarrassment, zero self-esteem and a range of stress-related medical symptoms are the norm, with many describing themselves as 'jelly fish parents', with no faith in their ability to make consistent decisions or follow through on them.

"It's very satisfying to be able to help these parents take control of their lives, regain their health and self-confidence, repair the damage to their families and steer their rebellious teenagers back towards the hope-filled, productive and successful futures that all caring, loving and responsible parents want for their teens," he says.

Peter Altmann points out that TOUGHLOVE Support Group facilitators have typically experienced similar issues to those faced by the parents they're helping. Feedback from parents consistently emphasises the importance they place on being able to talk to people who've also "been through it".

"Some things have changed since the 1980s. Many of us lead busier lives and parents can find it harder to devote as much time as they would like to their children. And it's also true that there are new sources of temptation available, particularly online.

"But one thing has remained constant. Parents of youth at risk still need the type of support and guidance that can only come from other parents, who've faced the same kind of trauma and come out the other side stronger, more self-aware and more capable. That's the vital ingredient that TOUGHLOVE provides," he adds.

Further information about TOUGHLOVE is available at www.toughlove.org.nz or via its freephone number: 0800 868 445


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