With the continuation of teenagers being abandoned under Nebraska's Safe Haven Law, many are asking what parents can do before it gets to that point. There is help. One approach is a parenting class which teaches parents helpful skills to deal with their children.
As Brenda Hiers and her four-year-old daughter Grace sit down for lunch, they catch up on what Grace learned in school that morning. One of the lessons was weather conditions, which Grace describes as "windy" and "cold." But turbulent might be the better word to describe conditions inside the Hiers home in recent years, when it came to raising a 14 and a four year old.
Brenda Hiers says, "It's an extreme challenge and we were to the point of 'what do we do, where do we go?'"
Such a challenge in fact, Hiers says she understands the frustrations of parents who have recently abandoned teenagers at Omaha hospitals. "Totally, yes. You get so frustrated with your kids sometimes, especially having a teenager."
It wasn't until Hiers and her husband turned to Heartland Family Services that family life started to make sense.
"I was looking for answers, my husband and I were both looking for answers, so we were very ready for it. We weren't sure what to expect, but after the first class it was like, wow," says Brenda Hiers.
Lou Ann Patterson is a therapist with Heartland Family Services. She teaches parents how to handle their children better.
Patterson says, "You learn to give them choices. (for example) You can stop hitting your brother or you can take a five minute time out. Which do you choose?"
It's just one lesson Patterson teaches parents in a six week class called "setting limits." Patterson says, "It's a wonderful style of teaching a child how to become responsible, how to become cooperative and take the parent out of the role of the bad guy."
Patterson has seen the lessons calm many turbulent homes, and Hiers herself is enjoying the peace with her kids. Brenda Hiers says, "We found help and it makes all the difference in the world."
The parenting class through Heartland Family Services is almost done for this year, but there are more classes already scheduled for next year.
The six week course will take place on Tuesdays from six p.m. to eight p.m. at the Heartland Family Services office at 11212 Davenport Street. The cost is $75 per person or $100 per couple.
The 2009 Schedule is:
January 20th to February 24th
April 21st to May 26th
August 25th to September 29th
You can call Heartland Family Services at 552-7005 for more information.