Wilton help group helps dad and mom with difficult youngsters
WILTON – Parents of children with challenging behavior don’t have to do it alone.
The National Alliance for Mental Illnesses (NAMI) – Child Action Network (CAN) has been offering a self-help group for parents here for six years. In times before COVID, they met monthly at the Gilbert & Bennett Cultural Center. It has been meeting virtually since March. The next meeting will take place on January 4th at 10 a.m.
The group is led by Vanessa Elias and Beth Schweitzer, trained volunteer moderators who have had personal experiences raising children with these concerns.
According to Elias, between eight and twelve people routinely attend each month, with children ages 8-23, many of whom are at different stages of their parenting journey.
“Many of the problems with younger children are now focused on school and behavior,” said Elias. “Having a child who is ‘tricky’ is a burden on a marriage,” she added. “Most of the time it is about validating a person’s experience and knowing that they are not alone.”
She said a family was talking about buying ice cream and her challenged child would eat anything. Another family had the same problem.
“Siblings are affected. A family is like a cell phone, ”she said.
“We are very focused on providing parents with the support they need to be self-sufficient. … You cannot pour from an empty well, ”she said. “You have to take care of yourself so that you can help others.”
There are, as Elias puts it, “little information silos” like Silver Hill Hospital, therapists, and school services. “Nobody connects them all. You don’t know where to go, you don’t know what your options are. There is an opportunity to learn within the group. “
Parents whose children are well now also attend and give hope to parents who are struggling.
The meetings are free and confidential, but attendees must call Schweitzer or Elias in advance or email them to get the Zoom password. For more information and the password, call Schweitzer at 203-984-0123 or send an email to [email protected] or call Elias at 203-970-4130 or [email protected].