Hope For Hurting Parents is a resource and support group being helped twice a month at Centerpoint Church in Valrico and is free and open to the community.

Many families in our community have been struggling through difficult times over the past two years. In the middle of a worldwide crisis, some families also have found themselves in personal crises. If you are a parent of teenager or young adult that may be struggling with self-injury, mental illness, depression, bullying, identity or destructive choices, you probably feel broken, powerless and isolated, but Centerpoint Church wants you to know that you are not alone.

Hope for Hurting Parents is a national organization aimed at providing resources for parents hurting over destructive behaviors or choices of their teen to adult children. Centerpoint Church hosts a local support group affiliated with the Hope for Hurting Parents organization.

The program is facilitated by Angela Parker, director of communications at Centerpoint Church, along with her husband.

“My husband and I decided to create this group because we have walked through difficult parenting seasons with our teens, and we quickly learned how isolating it can be,” said Parker. “We looked for safe places to talk and vent about our experiences and work through our own emotions, and we found that there weren’t many resources in this area, so we decided to create one.”

This group is open to the entire community and there is no need to register. The meetings are free, but there is an optional parent resource book that can be purchased, though it is not required in order to attend or participate.

“Meetings begin by introducing ourselves by first name and reviewing the ground rules—that everything discussed at these meetings is confidential,” said Parker. “From there, we ask for updates from those who want to share—but sharing is completely optional. After that, we have a time of learning and discussion—these lessons are based on equipping parents with coping skills and creating a framework to talk about their experiences. At the end of our meetings, we have a time for prayer for those who want to participate.”

Parents of all faiths are welcome and not required to participate in prayer time.

“The best part of facilitating this group is seeing other parents’ shoulders relax and let their guard down and settle into the fact that they aren’t alone,” said Parker. “So many people come to us hesitant to share, guarded against all of the judgmental opinions or advice that they are afraid they will get—again. But when they come, they experience a place where they can talk freely, where no one is trying to ‘fix’ their kid, where they can share the messy feelings that come with parenting a ‘prodigal’ and feel safe from judgment.”

The biggest thing Parker wants people to know is that parenting teens is difficult in the best of circumstances, but when teens make destructive choices, it can be incredibly stressful and dredge up a lot of painful emotions including fear, shame, anger and helplessness.

“But you aren’t alone, and you don’t have to walk through this by yourself,” said Parker.

The meetings will take place year-round beginning in January every second and fourth Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. at Centerpoint Church, located at 1720 S. St Cloud Ave. in Valrico. For more information, visit www.centerpointfl.org or call 689-1906.

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.