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Helping hand for parents in need

Reaching out: Andrea Lightbourne-Webster (File photograph)

Most parents feel overwhelmed at times. Andrea Lightbourne-Webster is offering support through the mayhem: a one-day conference at which parents will learn they are not on their own.

“Very often parents suffer in silence thinking they are the only ones going through things,” she said. “Here you are, responsible for another human being and there is no instruction manual.

“This conference is a chance for parents to network, talk over their problems, learn new coping skills and also celebrate what’s going right with their children.

“The focus is reaching out to parents and guardians to give them an arm of support.”

The event, taking place tomorrow, was inspired by a chance encounter in January. The Bermuda College professor ran into the mother of a former student, and asked how she was doing.

Dr Lightbourne-Webster could tell by the way the woman said “fine” that she was not fine at all.

“The bank wasn’t the place to talk,” she said. “We met up later and talked for two hours.”

The woman appreciated having someone who was willing to listen. It made Dr Lightbourne-Webster stop and think. She said: “[Parenting problems] are ongoing, no matter how old your child is. A lot depends on what goes on in our lives.

“There are stages in parenting. A parent who is navigating multiple children and balancing household responsibilities and a job can feel overwhelmed. That is a parent who might need help.

“Then you might have a parent who has a teenager just coming of age. That’s another situation that can be challenging.

“Some people may have fewer challenges depending on the support system around them. That is great.”

She organised the conference through the charity she founded three years ago. The Lighthouse Ministry Foundation is aimed at empowering and transforming the lives of people navigating challenges.

The conference is meant to be a time of “refreshment” for parents.

“It is a time for parents to take time for themselves,” she said. “It won’t just be sitting there with passive listening, it will be action-packed with lots of interactive activities.”

A counsellor will be on hand to give a clinical perspective and direct parents towards community resources, if needed. Two of Dr Lightbourne-Webster’s friends will share their parenting experiences.

Canadian Rosemary Lorimer and American Ethel Delaney were both challenged by their children’s actions.

“I value Rosemary’s story so much because she had the ideal family, but it wasn’t exempt from challenges,” Dr Lightbourne-Webster said. “She was a stay-at-home mother with a nice house, and a husband with a good job. Then her son made the choice to abuse drugs.

“Two of Ethel’s children also made decisions that went against core family values.”

Although Dr Lightbourne-Webster relies on prayer to solve her problems, she sees the advantages of talking to someone else.

“There is a benefit to having someone earthly in front of you,” she said.

“Sometimes people say, ‘I know God is there, but I would love to hear someone articulate what I am going through’.”

The You Are Not Alone Inspirational Parenting Conference takes place at Crawl Church in Hamilton Parish tomorrow from 9am to 3pm. Tickets, $25, are available from the Music Box or at the door. Lunch will be provided. Contact 331-7788, dr.light@logic.bm or visit lighthouseministryfoundation.com