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Advice from Samantha                                                              May 2012
In This Issue

Advice from Samantha

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Dear Friend,
 
In this issue, we bring you reflections from Samantha (not her real name) about what happened when a new parent came to her support group because of problems he was having with his twelve year old daughter.  It stirred up feelings within Samantha about her own childhood experience and illustrates quintessentially how parents can help each another.
 
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  All the best,
 

 
Randall Block
Executive Director

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Advice from Samantha
 
A long time friend of mine told me about Parents Helping Parents and how helpful she had found the group to be.  It didn’t cost anything so I decided to check it out.  It was definitely different from other stuff I had been through.  We didn’t watch videos about AIDS or nutrition or how to diaper babies.  We weren’t given a topic like anger management to discuss.  We talked about whatever we wanted – boyfriends, girlfriends, housing, drugs, and of course our kids.  It felt good to have a group like this.

One day a new parent, I’ll call him Richard, came to group.  He was the single parent of a 12 year old girl (who I’ll call Ellen).  She was a real handful.  The girl’s mother was chronically depressed and always letting their daughter down.  So Ellen would take out her disappointment on her dad.  She would slam her door; say she hated him – all because her mom cancelled on her one more time.

As Richard told us about his daughter I couldn’t help but think about how I had treated my own father.  I was 12 when my mother walked out on us.  I had two older sisters, 16 and 14, and a younger brother, 10.  My father was suddenly a single parent – and about to become a grandparent since my 16 year old sister was pregnant.  It must have been hard but he sacrificed everything for us.

I tried to keep up a relationship with my mother who was an alcoholic and an addict.  I took care of her for years when no one else did.  She would let me down every time just like Ellen’s mom let her down.  However my dad was always there with a listening ear, a lecture, and a cup of tea.  Me and my father have had our ups and downs but he is my rock.

Then I heard Richard say “So I told her she could go to her mother’s.  I’ll help you pack.”  “No” I said.  “Don’t tell her that.  She’s just testing you.  She needs to know that you will always be there for her no matter what she does.  If she begins to doubt that, who knows what she’ll do.”

I thought about my father again.  He was taking care of my kids who are 8 and 9.  DCF (the Department of Children and Families) had taken my kids but I knew where they were.  I knew they were safe and loved.  Here was my father sacrificing all over again for me.

That night after group I called my dad.  I wasn’t allowed to talk to my kids (DCF’s orders) but I told my father I loved him.  I told him how sorry I was for chasing away his girlfriends; for how mean I was to him after mom left us; how thankful I was that he was taking care of my kids until I was well enough to take them back.  I told him he was my rock; he was my best friend; and I would always love him.  You know what he did?  My 54 year old dad, who loves his motorcycle only a little more than his tattoos, he cried.  And I cried too.

At our group meeting the next week I told Richard about the call.  I told him that being the father of a 12 year old girl is hard and the next couple years could be even harder but in the end he will always be the one she runs to.  He will always be her rock and to stand by her no matter what.
 
Note: Names and some details have been changed to protect people’s privacy.


Our mailing address is:
Parents Helping Parents
108 Water Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone: 617-926-5008
Website: http://www.parentshelpingparents.org