By Mary O’KEEFE
Parents in the area have a unique opportunity to discuss and receive guidance on issues concerning children, peer pressure and what lies ahead on the road of parenthood.
The Parent Education Seminars held at the YMCA of the Foothills and spearheaded by Susan Dubin, board member of the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition, is a continuing parent outreach program. The seminars are in partnership with the Y and Glendale Unified School District. Recently the discussions have been on the 40 Developmental Assets and led by Crescenta Valley High School teachers and mentors Peter Kim and Jim Smiley. The Search Institute has identified these as the building blocks of healthy development that include family support, positive family communication, other adult mentors and a caring school climate.
The parent seminars began in 2009 as a way to give parents an outlet to discussion issues they are facing with their children. Pam Erdman is a marriage and family therapy counselor who has been with the parent sessions since they began. Paul Royer, a licensed clinical social worker, joined the sessions shortly after they began. The two local professionals lead the group discussions and provide tools to parents concerning real world scenarios they and their children might face.
The sessions originated from small break-out groups from meetings conducted by the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition. The coalition’s meetings at the time were held at CVHS. During those meetings, Dubin would lead a small group of parents in a discussion of specific issues that were concerning them. Dubin realized that this group of parents needed guidance and, with the help of then-principal Linda Evans, contacted Erdman who had conducted very popular discussions at the high school.
The parent sessions then partnered with the Y and the location was provided. Royer was later contacted to bring in a different style and a male approach to the issues. He too was a local therapist who had led popular discussions on teen and family issues at CVHS and other venues.
“We have covered subjects including bullying, communication with teens, peer pressure and grief,” Dubin said. “Parents asked for a session concerning [how to handle] a death.”
That is the foundation of the sessions: helping with issues that parents deal with on a day-to-day basis. They can request a subject to be discussed. The Dec. 1 death of Daniel Kaplan, 17, prompted the most recent request.
“So many kids knew him and liked him,” Dubin said. “We respond to parents’ [requests and concerns].”
Although the most recent sessions have been specifically titled “40 Assets,” past issues discussed have always followed the 40 Asset guidelines. Parental support, mentors and self-esteem issues are just of few of the topics covered. The discussions also cover drug and alcohol abuse and how important it is for all parents to be aware of these issues, rather than think their kids are not involved in risky behavior.
“Pam [Erdman] talks about this over and over again,” Dubin said. “Whether they are experimenting [with drugs or alcohol] or not, they are surrounded by those who are.”
She added that once Erdman and Royer joined the sessions, the discussions turned not only to what issues parents faced but also offered positive solutions.
Smiley and Kim will lead one last session on Tuesday, Jan. 29, then Erdman and Royer will lead the discussions.
The roles parents’ play in their child’s life has also been discussed. In upcoming sessions, Royer will deal with the role a father plays in his child’s development and how important it is to have a strong male role model.
Dubin, who has been the driving force behind the sessions since their inception, has been to almost every meeting.
“I have been coming to the sessions every time for four years and I still want to hear what [Royer and Erdman] have to say,” she said. “I still come away with something that either reinforces something I have already heard or something completely new.”
There will be a break between the 40 Developmental Assets ending on Jan. 29 and the regular sessions beginning again on Feb. 12. The sessions are located at the YMCA of the Foothills, 1930 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge at 7 p.m. The seminars are free.