Toughlove keeps fam­i­lies to­gether

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

Lov­ing teenagers through tough times is a chal­lenge Mar­garet Coe has over­come.

She now helps other par­ents get the sup­port they need at Toughlove, when their chil­dren are be­hav­ing un­ac­cept­ably.

Ms Coe came to Toughlove be­cause she was hav­ing trou­ble with her teenage son and had heard about the sup­port ses­sions.

“I thought I would go along for one meet­ing, get the in­for­ma­tion I needed and that would be it.

“It turned out to be a bit longer.”

Six years on, she has taken turns do­ing dif­fer­ent roles for the How­ick group, in­clud­ing lead­ing it and is now a Toughlove rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“There’s a lot of use­ful in­for­ma­tion and a lot of sup­port for par­ents. I wanted to give some­thing back.”

Toughlove Auck­land, which is based in Royal Oak, runs sup­port ses­sions around the re­gion in­clud­ing Ep­som and Pukekohe.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is hold­ing its an­nual ap­peal next week and vol­un­teers will be hand­ing out in­for­ma­tion to peo­ple in shop­ping malls around the re­gion.

Ms Coe says Toughlove is about set­ting a long term goal called “the stand”.

Each week, par­ents set a “bot­tom line”, which is a small step to­wards the stand.

“It’s a re­ally sim­ple sys­tem and it works re­ally well. You get sug­ges­tions from other par­ents you can try when you run out of ideas.”

Peo­ple of­ten come to Toughlove as a last re­sort, but it would be bet­ter if they came ear­lier, says Ms Coe.

“Peo­ple tend to think they should be able to solve all their prob­lems them­selves.”

The most com­mon is­sue peo­ple face with the teenagers is a lack of re­spect.

“It doesn’t sound that bad, but it leads into lots of other is­sues like foul lan­guage and stay­ing out at night, or more se­ri­ous prob­lems like run­ning away from home and drug and al­co­hol use.”

One of the suc­cess sto­ries she has seen in her time with the group was a fam­ily be­ing able to en­cour­age their run­away teen daugh­ter to come home.

She says a lot of peo­ple have mis­con­cep­tions about Toughlove and think it is about phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment.

“They think it will be tough on the kids, but it’s tough on the par­ents be­cause what they’ve been do­ing doesn’t work and they have to make changes. It’s very diffi

Toughlove Auck­land man­ager Ge­off An­drews says there will be a launch func­tion held for vol­un­teers on Mon­day to kick off the week, with Chris­tine Rankin as the guest speaker.

“We want to let par­ents know there are sup­port groups out there for them when they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour.”

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