Parenting workshops aimed at helping improve family communication

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Communities That Care Coordinator Marilynn Pysher hopes Shelter Island parents will take advantage of the organization’s workshops designed to support their efforts to assist their children in making good life choices and achieving academic success.

What would you do if you saw a neighbor’s child drinking or using drugs? Would you want your neighbor to tell you if it were your child demonstrating such behavior? Is your communication with your child always as open and direct as you might wish?

These and other questions about family interactions will be the focus of workshops sponsored by Communities That Care, which is in its fifth year of helping parents assist their children in making good life choices and achieving academic and social success.

When Marilynn Pysher, now a member of the Shelter Island Board of Education, first embraced the CTC concept in 2007, she was warned by a local clergyman that in this small community, she would be headed for failure.

Ms. Pysher believed from the start that in a society beset by substance abuse, many one-parent families or families where both parents work, everyone can use support to improve and sustain good family communications. CTC is financed with a $2,000 grant from the town. Other grants once available to such groups have dried up in the tight economy, Ms. Pysher said.

For the third successive year, CTC is about to roll out its Guiding Good Choices workshop for parents of children between the ages of 9 and 14. And a second workshop, Supporting School Success, is designed to reach families with children in kindergarten through third grade.

Coordinators Mary Kanarvogel, Ellen Gove and Greg Nissen will serve as facilitators for Guiding Good Choices while Wendy Clark and John Kerr will lead the Supporting School Success workshop.

“These are really great trainers with experience in these issues,” Ms. Pysher said in an interview at her Silver Beach house.

Parents shouldn’t think participation in the workshops means they have troubled children or are failing as parents, she said. Everyone can use support in developing good family management skills, she said.

“This is really a prevention program,” Ms. Pysher said. “It’s so much harder and more expensive” to cope with problems after they develop. “It’s so much easier and cost-effective to head it off,” she said.

Guiding Good Choices begins Thursday, Oct. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Shelter Island High School Library. The full cost of the program is $20, which covers all sessions that run through Nov. 15. And the price includes dinner and childcare.

The Supporting School Success program begins Thursday, Oct. 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Shelter Island High School Library and includes a “Kids Kamp” program for children in kindergarten through third grade, so parents can attend sessions without having to hire babysitters.

If you’re interested in participating in either program, call Jacki Dunning at 749-0302 ext. 101.

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