Be tough, but show you still love your child, is the advice offered to parents of troubled teen-agers by the Parent Project, a program of the Santa Clarita Anti-Gang Task Force.
"Instead of being angry and then backing down later," said Bonita DeAmicis, coordinator of the program, which will offer weekly training sessions for parents this summer, "we recommend they take away everything for a few days and they set a few guidelines the child has to follow in order to get one thing back."
The Parent Project is looking for volunteers to train other parents in effective ways of parenting teens in danger of falling into gangs, using drugs and having sex too early. Often parents feel helpless in trying to control their teen-agers, who can be so strong-willed that they often do not even bother coming home, DeAmicis said.
Under the guidelines of the Parent Project, parents are taught to start off from the strongest position possible. After each session, parents are sent home with a goal, either to enforce a guideline, or simply to tell their child, "I love you."
A five-day training for volunteers who will run the Parent Project sessions has been scheduled for July 17 through 21 at the William S. Hart Union High School District offices. About 20 to 30 seats are open for Santa Clarita residents, who can attend the session for free. But other communities are invited to send representatives, after paying a sponsoring fee of $350 for materials.
The Parent Project, which started on a limited basis last year, had been taught through the local schools until now. DeAmicis has already seen some success stories, such as a parent who was able to get her daughter off the streets of Hollywood.
The meetings serve as a support group for parents as well, DeAmicis said. One mother had done everything she could to keep her teen-ager out of baggy-style gang-inspired clothes. She had ripped them up and given him the clothes she wanted him to wear. But soon he was wearing gang clothes again. He had gotten them from a friend's parent.
With support from the Parent Project, the mother was able to gather up the courage to confront the other parent and explain what she had been trying to do and how that had been undermined. That is the kind of step that parents need to take to help their children, DeAmicis said.
"It's infectious," said DeAmicis, who expects to help 200 to 300 parents a year after the program gets rolling. Parent Project runs in 12 sessions, once a week, two hours a night.
For more information, call DeAmicis at (805) 297-1162.
Other volunteering opportunities:
Bridge Focus COSTARS, a child-abuse-prevention program, needs volunteers one evening a week for eight consecutive weeks beginning July 31. Volunteers will be trained to help children in discussion groups on family, staying safe and healthy, and in developing social skills and self-esteem. The program is conducted at 5142 Tujunga Ave., North Hollywood. For more information, call Shelli Duby at (818) 563-5509.
Volunteers are needed throughout Los Angeles by Olsten Kimberly Quality Care Hospice. After orientation, volunteers visit patient homes, run errands, make phone calls, work in the office or help in public speaking and health fair events. Volunteers can be of any age or background. Preregistration is required. For more information, call the director of volunteer services at (310) 475-3442.
Jolene's Horse Rescue, which saves horses from neglect and slaughter, needs volunteers to run its education program, help in taking inventory, answer phones and do office work. The group also needs barn managers, an assistant ranch manager, fund-raising volunteers and others to feed, water and groom horses. Donations of feed stalls, office supplies, horse feed, blankets and medicine are also needed. For information, call (818) 349-4113.
Getting Involved is a weekly listing of volunteering opportunities. Please address prospective listings to Getting Involved, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or fax them to (818) 772-3338.