Issaquah Police Department aims to help parents with strong-willed children

The Parent Project provides a 10-week course for parents with difficult or out-of-control adolescents.

The Issaquah Police Department is conducting 10-week courses specifically designed for parents with difficult or out-of-control adolescents.

This nationally recognized program, called the Parent Project, is created for parents to learn and practice prevention and intervention strategies for destructive behaviors. Some difficult behaviors address through the program may include truancy, alcohol and drug use, gangs and other criminal behavior, running away, violence or suicidal tendencies.

The Parent Project aims to create a home discipline structure that actually works. Frustrated parents can discover ways to get their child to complete homework or meet curfews. Many people take advantage of the opportunity to gain confidence in their parenting skills.

“The overall concept of this class is to provide a foundation, tools, techniques and action plans in the beginning,” said community resource officer Corporal Ryan Smith. After a a firm base is formed, the goal is to put it into play at home with the child, he explained.

Smith originally wanted to help parents after receiving calls from parents about not knowing how to handle their kids or teenagers. He tried to answer their questions, but ultimately couldn’t provide solutions.

The parent education class is especially targeted for parents or guardians of strong-willed children. Parents are self-referred or can be referred to Parent Project classes by school officials.

“I’m the middle man between the residents in Issaquah and patrol,” Smith said. “I was a pretty strong-willed kid myself, so I know how it was with my parents.”

Smith brought the course to Issaquah after finding out about the curriculum pioneered in California. He extensively researched the program, talked with the founders and participated in a facilitator training two years ago.

Two full 10-week classes have already been completed—one in the fall of 2018 and another in the spring of 2019. The next course is set to take place in October, continuing the same format of twice-yearly programs.

Smith provides parents with the same basic tools and information, although the guidance deviates with the needs of each child. Implementation is different with every child and parent in each home, he said.

The Parent Project provides progressive classes, so each one builds on the prior. Smith explained that the course becomes a peer support group by the end of the 10 weeks. He stops instructing and lets the parents work together, build relationships and share their issues.

“It’s a huge resource for parents in the entire Issaquah School District,” Smith said. He explained that any parent with a child in the school district is allowed to take the class.