Parent Project supports parents in raising teens

As a parent of four children, I found myself wishing that they came complete with an owner’s manual. As they were growing up, I raised my children with love, values, discipline, family support and lots of prayers.

There was a time, however, that I was convinced that one of my daughters participated in an extra-terrestrial experiment. It seemed that she was abducted by aliens and returned as an adolescent with a microchip inserted into her shoulder. Before her teenage years were over, I was extremely grateful to the Parent Project. I took the class thinking I was going to change my daughter, but it ended up changing my life.

Seventeen years in development, the Parent Project is the only course of its kind, providing activity-based instruction using a highly structured, self-help support group model. It offers a vehicle for the establishment of ongoing support groups throughout the community.

Parents learn and practice specific prevention and intervention strategies for destructive behaviors such as truancy, alcohol and other drug use, gangs, practice of the occult, running away, violence and suicide. In these classes, parents receive specific, step-by-step plans for intervening in and preventing these destructive behaviors.

The Parent Project is court-mandated in many counties throughout the United States. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention along with the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law identified the Parent Project as the only program operating in multiple states. Other counties use these classes as an intervention program with referrals from the Department of Education.

The program has excellent facilitators who attend a rigorous 40-hour training by the original authors of the Parent Project. Probation officers, mental health agencies, churches, community-based organizations, teachers and parents are some of the volunteers.

When I attended the classes, it was facilitated by DARE/GREAT officers Trent Shimabukuro, Ezra Kanoho and Ken Carvalho. I am forever grateful to them for all the support they have offered through the years to many families on Kaua‘i.

Since the inception of the Parent Project, the authors developed Parent Project Jr. (Loving Solutions) for parents of children 5 to 10 years old, as well as the “Teen Project” curriculum for adolescents. Although the Parent Project was created for parents with difficult or out-of-control adolescent children, I highly recommend it to any parent who wants to successfully enforce and ensure positive behaviors in their children.

A recent graduate of the Parent Project said, “It made a huge difference in my life. When I joined the program my daughter ran away and I let her. By graduation, she was home and we now have the tools we need to make it work for all of us. I thank God for the Parent Project and everyone involved.”

As the anti-drug coordinator, it is my hope to make a difference in people’s lives every day. My goal is to have Parent Project become a household name throughout Kaua‘i. To ensure that every family has an opportunity to participate in this project we provide classes throughout the island, inclusive of childcare services, homework tutoring, a meal and the Teen Project “Choosing Success, Choosing Life.” The classes are for 10 weeks and cost $30 per family. Families have the option of paying $3 per week or they may apply for a scholarship.

Hopefully the Department of Education, Judiciary, Kaua‘i Police Department and others who work with children and families will follow the lead of other counties and states and refer or court order families to participate in this program.

Today I have raised three successful adults and I am still raising my teenage son with love, values, discipline, family support, prayers, lots of prayers, and the owner’s manual that I wished for — a 216-page guide that keeps me on the right path. I’ve had the Parent Project manual for more than eight years; it’s full of coffee stains, dog ears and penciled-in notes, but it continues to help me sail against the rough tide while raising children in today’s complex world.

Parent Project is a gift, something we can pass on for generations to come. For more information or a Parent Project class near you, call 241-4925.

• Theresa C. Koki is the county of Kaua‘i anti-drug coordinator.

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