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Parents-only discussion focuses on teen-agers Speaker urges them to stay involved in their children's lives RTC


Teen-agers frequently complain that their parents just don't understand them.

A group of parents from Broadneck is trying to do that through a series of seminars at Anne Arundel Community College. But they didn't invite those who are the focus of their talks.

Walt Mueller, guest speaker at the seminar and the author of two advice books on teen-agers, said he sought the parents-only format so that he could speak frankly.

"When I talk about teen-agers and what's going on in their world, I want to talk to the parents and be straightforward with them," said Mr. Mueller, president of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and the father of four.

Keith Peck, pastor of the Broadneck Evangelical Presbyterian Church, one of the organizers of the three-part series, said the sessions involve "an audience of parents working together."

"This helps them in many ways talk about what they want to talk about with their kids," he said.

Camp Blaze, a nonprofit organization that sponsors family activities, is the other sponsor of the seminar.

At the first session last Thursday, Mr. Mueller urged parents to become more involved in the lives of their teen-agers, even though it might appear that they are not wanted.

"All of a sudden, you don't know everything. All of a sudden, you are not right all of the time. You are human, and you have faults," said Mr. Mueller, who has worked with teen-agers in various programs for 21 years.

"But even though the outward signals indicate to you that your kids want you out of their lives, inside -- and I would stake my life to this -- they desperately want you and need you in their lives."

Mr. Mueller said it is more important than ever for parents to be involved with their teen-agers because of the increasing temptations of modern life.

"It's difficult for kids to grow up today," he said. "I think many of us make the mistake of turning ourselves off to our kids."

At the second seminar, at 7:30 tonight, parents get to talk about their experiences.

Next week, the session will include a panel of teen-agers talking about their misunderstandings with their parents and what they want from their parents.

Many of the parents who attended last week's session said they were not surprised by the absence of youths.

"I don't find it odd at all," said Don Thompson, of Arnold. "We're trying to look at different issues from an adult point of view. We have to get the advice to prepare for the children."

Kathy Kenney, a 48-year-old grandmother of three, said she understood why organizers excluded children from the seminars.

"I think he's just laying the groundwork for now so that we can ask the proper questions," she said. "We don't want to be so critical."

Ellen Parisi, 42, a hairdresser from Pasadena, said she learned that she needed to sit down and talk with her teen-age daughter more frequently.

"Kids are going through a lot of stuff, which I remember myself," Mrs. Parisi said. "It's a scary thing, and we as parents have to remember that and work from that."

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