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Guelph conference aimed at helping parents with disruptive teens




May 11, 2017 The Record http://www.therecord.com/news-story/7310633-parent-group-helped-heal-shattered-waterloo-family/




As someone that has spent years helping run the Guelph chapter of a support group for parents of disruptive teens, Rosemary Fernandes-Walker has seen a broad spectrum of concerns.

“We have parents come in who are flipping out because their kid’s room is a mess or they spend too much time on the computer, then we have other parents whose child is in jail or 14 years old and pregnant,” she said.

“There’s a very big extreme, but they all come in feeling the same way.”

Fernandes-Walker helps run the Guelph chapter of APSGO (Association of Parent Support Groups of Ontario), a group that meets weekly to discuss and provide help for those parents.

“We help people find ways to build better relationships with their kids and get peace in their home,” Fernandes-Walker said. “It’s been around in the Guelph area for 15 years and for 30 years in Ontario.”

She said they get around 30 families a week to their Guelph meetings.

“But I’m sure there are hundreds of more parents out there that could use some help and don’t know it’s available.”

On Saturday, May 27, Guelph will be hosting the Guelph Parenting Young Adults and Teens Conference at Bishop Macdonell high school.

The day-long conference is a resource for those looking for help.

“The goal is really to bring awareness to the help that their is support for parents that have these at-risk kids and to provide them with some quick answers and resources for them to get started at least on where they can get help,” Fernandes-Walker said.

“What maybe going on with their kid that they don’t understand. Just getting the word out there.”

It will feature keynote speaker Dr. Karyn Gordon and there will be break-out sessions featuring seven other speakers and a panel discussion where participants can submit questions. Fernandes-Walker will also be speaking.

She said APSGO isn’t “just a bitch session where you can come in and complain about their kids,” it’s a practical process that includes homework and concrete strategies that participants are expected to try.

Parents work with coaches to work on strategies to work on over the week until the next morning.

“It’s very action oriented rather than just a support group,” Fernandes-Walker said.

The Guelph Chapter of APSGO meets weekly on Monday nights from 7:30 until 9 p.m. at Alexander Hall, Room 265 at the University of Guelph.

More information and tickets for the upcoming conference can be found at www.guelphparenting.com.





Every day in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge there are hundreds of parents that are Do you have a  Where do they turn? Most have no idea where to look for help. There are many situations that parents are challenged with daily.

Their son stays out all night and sleeps all day. The daily absence call from the school sends their blood pressure through the roof. Parents are embarrassed by their child’s appearance and foul language. They feel helpless and fear for their child’s future. And many couples don’t agree on how to parent their struggling teens.

These challenges are a lot more common than you think. The biggest challenge is that we as parents don’t want people to know what’s going on. We’re afraid to share our struggles and have been told not to air our dirty laundry.

There is help here in Waterloo Region for these parents. For the last 3 years the Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario (APSGO) KW chapter has been meeting every Wednesday night to support parents and provide them with actionable steps to take in order to build strong relationships with their kids and maintain peace in their homes.

Steve and his wife have been attending this group for 6 years as a parent of 2 young adults. They started out attending the chapter meetings in Guelph. Since then they trained as coaches with Steve leading the start-up of the KW Chapter in September 2013.

APSGO is an organization founded by parents, for parents and run exclusively by parents. Through weekly meetings, workshops and their web site, APSGO provides a completely non-judgmental community where parents of disruptive sons and daughters learn practical and proven techniques to help them and their children. Meetings are run by trained and skilled parents who have first-hand experience of the compelling evidence of the value of APSGO’s approach. The parents are not professional counselors; they are parents who went to APSGO for support and eventually went on to take the coaches training to support others.

The concept has worked to support hundreds of families in the Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area.

Back in the fall of 2016, the Guelph Chapter was awarded funding from the ‘100 Women Who Care Guelph’ group to run a Parenting Conference in Guelph. This conference is taking place on May 27th at Bishop Macdonell High School. The purpose of the conference is to offer parents resources, information and skills. Through various speakers and working sessions parents will walk away with knowledge that may help them move forward in getting help to build their relationships with their children.

This is a great opportunity for parents to hear the Key Note Speaker Dr. Karyn Gordon discuss ways to help youth build confidence. Other guest speakers will include the following topics:

  • Accepting and Embracing Difference: Beyond the LGBPQ25 Acronym
  • Let’s Talk About It: Learning About Youth Suicide
  • Navigating the Cybersphere: The Challenges for Parents and Youth
  • Three Habits of Resilient Families
  • Combating Caregiver Fatigue
  • Substance Abuse and Youth: What Parents Should Do

Lead coaches from the APSGO organization will also host an APSGO Panel where parents can submit question about parenting on-line when registering and get some answers during the conference.

The typical parent who attends APSGO starts when their child is 15, starting high school, hanging out with a challenging crowd, maybe smoking drugs, missing school, grades are slipping, etc. There are however parents of kids who are 13 and starting to present challenges, all the way up to young adults who are into their 30’s and are still living in their parent’s basement, not working, playing video games. APSGO has dealt with parents of young people with mental health challenges, criminal offences, promiscuity, etc. APSGO can help all parents in that spectrum.

The first step to finding out more is by attending the Guelph Parenting Conference on May 27th. More information about the conference and tickets are available through www.guelphparenting.com.

Six years later, Steve and his wife have strong relationships with both their children, thanks to the time they invested in those relationships. It hasn’t been easy, but the weekly reinforcement and homework provided by the coaches at APSGO continues to be applied in their relationships to this day.



May 11, 2017 The Record http://www.therecord.com/news-story/7310633-parent-group-helped-heal-shattered-waterloo-family/

Parent group helped heal ‘shattered’ Waterloo family

WATERLOO — Steve and Delila Keczem were at a loss dealing with their oldest son’s troubling behaviour. It seemed like their family was “beyond repair.”

“We were prisoners in our own home,” Delila said. “Our family was shattered.”

Then the Waterloo couple went to a meeting of the Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario.

“They helped us to get our life back,” Steve said.

At the weekly meetings they got practical strategies that helped them build a different relationship with their son. There they also felt at ease surrounded by other parents who knew what they were going through.

“We just felt very comfortable because people were looking at us with nods of understanding,” Steve said.

The peer-to-peer support group encourages parents to learn to love the child they have rather than the one they hoped for.

“You can’t fix anyone. You have to change yourself,” Delila said.

The couple struggled for years with their son. They were unsure how to handle his anger management issues, his pushing of boundaries, his skipping school, and his undesirable friends and substance use. Police were called numerous times when things got out of hand.

Counselling and doctors helped the family only so much and there just weren’t a lot of resources for families like theirs. The couple also felt they couldn’t talk to friends about what they were dealing with at home

“Nobody we knew had serious issues. We had nowhere to turn,” Delila said.

Not only does the group provide strategies for parents — they leave with written instructions they can turn to during a difficult situation with their child to guide them through the encounter — but there are also trained coaches on call to offer support in a crisis.

“In the heat of the moment when you can’t think, reach out to one of us coaches and we’ll walk you through some of the options,” Steve said.

Both were asked to complete the coach training, and then Steve went on to start the Kitchener-Waterloo chapter in fall 2013. Upwards of a dozen parents from Waterloo Region were carpooling to the Guelph meeting.

The Guelph chapter is hosting a parenting conference on May 27 that includes speakers and working sessions to give parents resources, information and skills.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community and letting them know there are resources out there. You’re not alone,” Steve said.

The couple, who has been attending the group for six years, is astounded by how their relationship with their son, now a young adult, has changed by practising the strategies. They also learned to let go of the anger and take care of themselves, with self-care a big focus of the parent coaching.

They remain involved and still attend meetings because they still need the strategies, which they say can help with any relationship. The key is the non-confrontational approach, which has the bonus of bringing down the household stress level.

The association has been around for more than 30 years and is in nine cities across Ontario. Most parents come when their child is an early teen, but some parents have children in their 40s they are still supporting.

“There is a great need. People just don’t know the help is there,” Steve said.

More information on the conference and tickets are available at www.guelphparenting.com.

Find out more about the group at www.apsgo.ca or call 1-800-488-5666.