Those are the words of Kerri Clouse, director of the BICC Transitions program, who also stresses that strengthening family bonds and promoting positive communication between parent and youth through this critical period is the focus of the BICC (Bradley Initiative for Church & Community) initiative.
“BICC launched Transitions in August 2012, in response to the need expressed through their community-listening process to strengthen families,” said Brenda Hughes, BICC executive director. “The Transitions Program is designed for families with youth ages 10 to 14 and engages the entire family in an interactive, skills-building process to help address the challenges they face.”
The mission of Transitions is to strengthen family systems by providing the education, skills, support and encouragement families need to nurture each other through adolescence and life.
Clouse stressed, “Transitions is a family-centered program that helps parents protect and empower their children through communicating their family values, standards regarding substance abuse and hopes for the future. Healthy families are the foundation for a healthy community and society.”
The Transitions Program uses Strengthening Families Program 10-14 (SFP 10-14), which is a strength-based program that builds on the family’s existing strengths and skills. SFP 10-14 is recognized nationally as an evidence-based curriculum that is used by many federal agencies, such as the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, and the US Department of Education.
“The Transitions Program is an exciting opportunity for families of all socio-economic levels,” Clouse said. “Parents and youth attend seven weekly sessions, which incorporates lots of fun activities while teaching ways to promote family bonding to keep the lines of communication open, and solve problems together.”
She added, “There are three components of the sessions. The first half-hour, a family style meal is provided to help encourage families to get back to the family table. For some of our families, it is the only time during the week that everyone sits down together to share about their day. During the next hour, parents and youth meet separately, and work on similar skills in small groups. The last hour of the session provides a unique time for the youth and parents to practice their newly learned skills through games, and meaningful family projects. There is no cost to the families to be in Transitions, and childcare for younger siblings under age 10 is provided.”
The following story is a sample of one of the many families that has experienced the impact of Transitions in their lives.
Lisa Humphres shared her family’s Transition Story.
“Prior to the BICC Transitions class, every day our family experienced numerous moments of chaos, especially when trying to get out the door in the morning and during homework time in the evenings. There was absolutely no consistency in our rules or discipline. Arguments were happening daily. Our son, who is 11, had a way of easily manipulating situations to allow him to sleep too long, making us late leaving in the morning, put off doing his homework, avoid cleaning his room, put off going to bed on time, etc.
“Through the Transitions class, we were taught how to show love while setting limits, which enabled my husband and I to confidently stand firm in our decisions, and also taught our son what to expect and how to make the right choices. Our communication has greatly improved, which has made it easier for both our son and us as parents to make the transition to middle school. The Transitions class gave our son positive techniques to ensure he makes sound choices should he encounter negative situations.
“In one session, we cleverly walked through many potential negative scenarios as a group. This particular exercise helped to take the scare out of going into middle school by allowing my son to see and hear other kids his age demonstrate how to do the right thing.
“As a family we have gained a new level of respect for each other and have more time having fun together. We are so thankful for the staff at BICC to have offered such a great program and we are forever grateful!”
According to Clouse, this is an example of just one family’s positive experiences in BICC Transitions.
“During the first year, we have served a wide variety of families including traditional two-parent families, single-parent families and grandparents raising their grandchildren,” Clouse said. “All families are unique and have their own special story.”
When asked why she believes in BICC Transitions, Clouse shared her own story.
“My family desperately needed help when my kids entered middle school and adolescence. I thought we were prepared. Our three athletic and intelligent children had a two-parent home and were active in church. As my oldest child entered middle school, things continued to move smoothly, but when my second child hit adolescence, chaos and conflict moved in. Little things were suddenly big things, and by the time my third child was in middle school I felt like my family was drowning. We needed help but I did not know where to turn.”
She added, “Looking back, I can see several problem areas, things that the Transitions program addresses. My husband and I were trying to use the same parenting skills that we used when our children were in elementary school, but those children had changed. We did not know how to address the new pressures of more homework, girlfriends, making the football team, drugs and alcohol.
“We lost the ability to connect and communicate with each other and we forgot the importance of making time to eat together and enjoy each other’s company. I honestly do not know how we were able to hold it together long enough to get my youngest child graduated from high school. Those six or seven years were the worst experience of my life and they cost my family a lot! As a mother, I have felt like I was chasing after my children screaming, ‘Let me love you!’ and was unable to reach them. I do not want other families to feel alone in the struggle and turmoil of their children becoming teenagers. I feel that God is allowing me to share my story through Transitions, so my past does not become the future of another family.
“The Transitions program continues to make a positive impact in many families in our community. We are expecting to serve our largest group of families yet in our session starting on Oct. 22.”
Area parents who have a child between the ages of 10 to 14 are eligible to sign up for Transitions. The next session will begin on Jan. 16, 2014.
“Even if you think your family is doing great, there is always something to be learned from the experiences of other families,” Hughes stressed. “Not only does Transitions provide family education, it offers an environment for parents, youth and different families to connect and support each other. Plus, there is no cost to attend. We offer free child care, a free meal at the start of each session and a cash reward for completing the seven-week program.”
Families must pre-register in order to attend. Registration may be completed by contacting Kerri Clouse at 559-1112.