Parenting Anonymous helps solve problems

Special to the CNJ

Parents Anonymous Inc, an organization dedicated to having parents help parents, is getting its start in the area.
Dawn Pivonka, executive director of Youth Opportunities Unlimited and a certified trainer in Parents Anonymous, said the group offers parents a chance to freely share concerns, problems and possible solutions to parenting in a safe and supportive atmosphere.
“Parents Anonymous is a support group, an opportunity for parents to come together to speak about problems in a non-judgmental manner,” she said.
According to a Parents Anonymous Inc. pamphlet, the organization, at 32 years, is the “oldest child abuse prevention organization dedicated to strengthening families through innovative strategies that promote mutual support and parent leadership.”
Groups have now been formed in Clovis and Portales, and YOU boasts the only accredited Parents Anonymous in the state of New Mexico. Meetings are led by a trained group facilitator and a parent leader.
Brandie Sweet, program coordinator for Parents Anonymous, said meetings begin with only a facilitator.
“The parent leader is supposed to emerge out of the group,” she said. “They’re the ones that really seem to be interested and want to give their time.”
Sweet said the meetings are completely confidential, except in the cases of child abuse.
“If we suspect child abuse, we will report it, but Parents Anonymous’ goal is to talk to the parent and have them self-report (to police),” she said. “We’d rather them report themselves than somebody reporting for them.”
Pivonka said another goal is to have a children’s program to coincide with the parents’ program, but there are not enough qualified volunteers available for such a venture at this time.
Sweet, the parent of a 1-year-old, said that even though she is the coordinator of the program, she plans to attend the meetings as a parent.
“I need that help. Parents can’t, these days, do it on their own … My son’s 1, and I’ve been to the point that I want to pull my hair out,” she said. “I think Parents Anonymous is wonderful because nobody is there to judge. They’re just there to help each other.”
There are meetings in Portales at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 1 p.m. Thursdays in the YOU office, 521 W. Second St.
There will be meetings in Clovis at 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Housing Authority Office, 2101 W. Grand Ave., and at 6 p.m. Mondays at the YOU office, 414 Mitchell St.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call Sweet at 762-8385.
There is a Web site for information on Parents Anonymous at www.parentsanonymous-natl.org.
The 24-hour YOU crisis hotline is 799-9828.