Parents urged to ‘be better’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 13, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 13, 1999

RESERVE – Economically-disadvantaged parents can have it especially rough, two speakers told a group at Reserve Housing Development.

However, with the help of God and their neighbors, answers are within their reach.

Two representatives of the Caritas organization spoke to a dozen Fifth Ward Elementary parents Wednesday in the housing development’s JTPA classroom.

Caritas, said retired registered nurse and local group director Eunice Royal, is Latin for “God’s love.” The lay Catholic women’s organizationworks around the world to help poor families improve themselves.

“To inspire the poorest of the poor,” Royal said of the group’s mission.

Royal was accompanied by Barbara Bahlinger. “We help bring out what isalready there. We don’t bring anything new.”Bahlinger added, “We are here to enable the parents to know the goodness within themselves.”At the meeting, parents quickly assembled, some with small children.

After a prayer and presentation of Fifth Ward’s 1998-99 school song “I Believe I Can Fly” by members of the school chorus, the group began in earnest.

Fifth Ward Principal Nora Pierre spoke first and stressed to the parents, “This is not to say you aren’t good parents, but we could all be better.”Parents first voiced some of their concerns about life as it affects their children. Television was seen as one of the banes of their existence, aschildren pick up too many incorrect impressions, leading them to improper behavior.

On the other hand, parents were quizzed as to whether they attend church and whether they personally discuss God with their children. In manyhomes, God comes in last place in the priority list.

“Children will see how you relate to God,” Bahlinger pointed out. “Afamily is like a little church.”Royal continued ,”Each child is important. Each child is special.”One single father attending explained his problem communicating to his teen-age daughter. He was advised to establish discipline and authority inthe home. “Be consistent,” it was stressed. “Your job is not to be her palbut her parent.”Parents also received copies of information on upcoming LEAP tests so as to help their children prepare adequately.

The meeting ended with a prayer and a pledge by each to establish and maintain lines of communication with their children.

“God is in each one of us,” Bahlinger affirmed.

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