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By Eric Heinz
It is said that nothing is stronger than a family bond. That’s probably why it hurts so much when it’s strained or breaks.
For parents with children who are acting out, behaving inappropriately or consistently disregarding authority—or worse—Because I Love You is a support system that offers support.
An informational meeting will take place 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at San Clemente Presbyterian Church, 119 Avenida De La Estrella. Regular meetings take place 7 to 9 p.m. every Monday.
BILY founder Dennis Poncher will speak about the program and his struggles more than 30 years ago with his own family situation.
Gina Sisca Hazlett began the San Clemente chapter of BILY in July and is now trying to spread information to other parents who may utilize the group’s resources.
Sisca Hazlett said it’s not an easy task to rearrange someone’s parenting methods after years of repetition.
“It’s really difficult,” she said. “We kind of make it like it’s a team effort so they know they have that support. If they’re going to have to follow through on a tough consequence like take their kid’s car away or whatever, they have us to call for support, to help them have the strength to follow through.”
Sisca Hazlett said the group wants the parents to guide themselves toward making better decisions rather than coming to the rescue every time they make a bad decision.
“We work more with the parents more on their level; we meet them where they (are comfortable),” she said. “We work together to brainstorm to find what works with each individual family. They can share whatever issues they’re facing and we help them come up with a plan.”
Parents formulate a goal each week during the meeting. Most of the goals are set to give them peace again and take control of the family.
“We just help them get back on track and establish boundaries,” she said.
Sisca Hazlett said there are guest speakers who come to meetings but professional psychologists and psychiatrists aren’t necessarily involved. It’s an experience-based support system.
“In one meeting sometimes we can see the stress lifted because the parents always leave the meeting with a plan for the week,” Sisca Hazlett said. “The byproduct is the children, a lot of the time, get their lives back on track because the parents have the tools to do that and the strength to hold their kids accountable.”
Sisca Hazlett said they ask interested parents to try the organization’s meeting for a minimum of six weeks but it is not a requirement.
“It’s difficult steps they have to take sometimes,” she said. “Some parents come for two years and they’re still just taking baby steps.”
Currently nine parents are attending the San Clemente chapter’s meetings, but she said that is before the official launch meeting.
The majority of issues parents face include drugs, disrespect in general and a lack of recognition for authority, Sisca Hazlett said.
Age ranges of children who are acting out are typically teenagers, but she said they’ve helped parents of children in their 20s and in rare instances 30s and 40s.
“Part of it is having confidence in who you are—remembering who you are and what your morals are,” Sisca Hazlett said. “A lot of parents are letting their kids get away with things that they don’t believe are OK, but they don’t have the strength or the confidence to hold their kids accountable for what they believe is right.”
Some of the tactics of rebuilding the family structure include body language and instructional procedures, she said, but this is also backed up with strict enforcement.
“If your No. 1 problem is drugs with your children, you’ve got to drug test them and hold them accountable,” she said. “Follow through with the consequences or let them deal with the consequences if they get into trouble instead of rescuing them.”
The proof of the strength in group support organizations was enough for her to start a local chapter in San Clemente.
“I’ve heard so many amazing success stories,” she said. “If there’s a mental illness or violent situation that we are not equipped to handle, we will find them resources. Even if it’s a very difficult situation, we take that into consideration.”
BILY is a nonprofit organization and attendance is free. The local chapter partners with the Wellness and Prevention Center of San Clemente at San Clemente High School.
For more information about the organization, parental guiding tools and additional resources, call 949.498.7276 or visit www.bily.org.