After a bit part in a cat food commercial, your 5-year-old daughter begs to enroll in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
What do you do?
For tips on rearing children with special needs, parents are tuning in a program on radio station KIEV (870 AM) called “Parent Talk,” co-hosted by Olga Jones and Toluca Lake psychotherapist Jane Berwick.
Begun in November, the half-hour show airs at 9 p.m. the first three Sundays of each month. The program has fielded such topics as rearing show-biz kids, art therapy, dyslexia, Down’s syndrome and building confidence through athletics.
“ ‘Parent Talk’ is an exploratory program about what tools are available to parents--how other parents have handled similar situations with their children,” said Jones, who lives and works in Burbank as a real estate agent with her husband, Trent.
“My own experience comes from raising two very creative daughters,” she said.
Jones and Berwick, who have no previous radio experience, said such programs as “Parent Talk” are needed to help boost awareness of good parenting skills. They began the program after discovering that many parents had little access to a network of parenting experts that they could trust. They think of the show as the “Viscott show for parents,” referring to David Viscott, the popular call-in radio and TV psychologist.
“There’s definitely a market for this kind of program,” said Tony Marx, KIEV assistant sales manager. “We don’t have anything else on the air like it.”
Besides featured parenting experts, listeners phone in and often spark topics for conversation.
Lisa, a recent call-in listener, explained that she had witnessed a little boy at a La Canada sporting goods store crying hysterically, his mother offering him little solace.
“I don’t know what he did, but the woman was holding a baseball saying, ‘You’re not allowed to play with this now because I want to make you suffer. Are you suffering enough?’ Then the little kid started to whimper and the woman shouted, ‘Shut up! It’s my turn to talk to you!’ I just had to leave the store.”
Lisa, who had just had her first child, asked if there was any way a person can referee in such situations. “You just have to keep your own side of the street clean,” Berwick responded. “You can’t do much to intervene in others’ parenting behavior.”
Jones said the story was a perfect lesson in how not to parent, especially since children often will mirror their parents’ behavior.
“Above all else, it’s important for parents to be good role models,” Jones said. “The fact that you love your career and relationships make a deep imprint on your children. This idea about sacrificing for your children so they can have what you didn’t have doesn’t always translate as good parenting.
“If you raise children with that attitude, they’ll grow up thinking that they need to do the same thing. Nobody ever gets to live their own life.”
“Parent Talk” is airing “at a time when parents are interested in how other parents are doing it,” said Sidney Harrison, who called to ask a Hollywood agent how to increase the “audition potential” of her 4-year-old son. “Everybody wonders if ‘I’m doing it right.’ That seems to be the core of the show. Listening in really helps me feel connected to what other parents are thinking and doing.”
Berwick said some parents consider their children an “ego extension” of themselves--a recurring theme of the show. Not able to distinguish between their own aspirations and their children’s dreams and goals, such parents often experience either resistance or distance from their offspring.
“These are parents who want children to be just like them,” Berwick said. “They use their children as validation for their own egos. Or they want their children to do what they’ve always wanted to do.
“In reality, our children are separate from us with individual aspirations. Too many parents have a mind-set of knowing exactly who their children are supposed to be. They don’t have the patience to wait and see who they really are.”
Where and When Program: “Parent Talk.” Air time: 9 to 9:30 p.m. the first three Sundays of the month. Station: KIEV Radio, 870 AM. Call: Those interested in presenting topics for the show can call Olga Jones at (818) 953-5102 or write P. O. Box 2453, Toluca Lake 91610.