Last year, Thrive Counseling Center, our community mental health center, began sponsoring an annual discussion series focused on meaningful topics relevant to our community. I gave a talk titled, “Creating Peaceful Families.” In November, I continued the conversation with a presentation called, “Becoming an Even Better Parent.” These discussions as well as all other Thrive Talks can be viewed on the Thrive website (

In the most recent talk, I spoke about viewing each family as a unique culture that is primarily influenced and shaped by parents. I asked several questions of the participants such as: “Are you creating the kind of family culture that you want?” “What would you like to see happening differently in your relationship with your child/children?” “When you are interacting with your child/children, are you being the person you want them to be?”

It is quite clear to me that all parents want what is best for their kids. They want to teach their children important life lessons so they can grow up and find success and happiness in their own lives. The problem isn’t what we want for our kids but how we teach them these important lessons. 

This spring, Thrive will pilot a program for people who want to be even better parents of teens. As group facilitator, I will guide participants as they share their own parenting issues in a supportive and encouraging environment. Participants will learn from each other new strategies for creating a kinder and more respectful family culture and understand the difference between a reaction and a response. Parents will also gain skills to interrupt emotional surges with thoughtful responses that communicate their wisdom.

The program will be offered in a series of three 2-hour workshops for parents of adolescents. Groups will be limited to 10-20 participants and will be interactive in nature, using role plays, simulation, and discussion. We will meet three times from 7 to 9 p.m. on March 12, April 9 and April 30 at Thrive Counseling Center, 120 S. Marion St., Oak Park. Attendance at all three workshops is expected. The fee for the series will be $150 per person and $200 per couple.

If you are a parent of younger children and feel a similar program for this age group would be worthwhile, please contact Thrive.

To register for this program, please contact Wynne Lacey, 708-383-7500, ext. 111. For general questions related to the program, you may contact Kristen Keleher at Thrive, 708-383-7500, ext. 206 or

Steve Parker, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

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