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BILY San Diego offers support for parents

A San Diego single mother struggled with her teenage son.

The boy suffered from mental health problems and marijuana abuse. After unsuccessfully going through several outpatient treatment programs and short-term treatments, the mother was desperate for another outlet to help her family.

It was then that she discovered the Because I Love You (BILY) San Diego program in Encinitas, which is a support group run by trained volunteers for parents who have become challenged by their children.

“I wanted a peaceful home and I needed support to help me make changes to achieve the peace I needed,” said the mother, who preferred to remain anonymous. “Everything I have done has helped put me on the trajectory toward peace in my home. BILY has been instrumental by providing support and suggestions in a non-judgemental forum. BILY has served as my co-parent and has helped me to stay accountable and enforce family rules with minimal conflict.”

BILY, which has built chapters throughout the United States since the 1980s, started its San Diego group about seven years ago.

The group meets every Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Seacoast Community Church, 1050 Regal Road. The meetings are free, and about 20 parents regularly attend.

Although the meetings take place at a church, they are non-religious and non-judgmental, said BILY San Diego Executive Director Gina Sisca Hazlett.

“What we do is we help parents who are in crisis with their children — whether they are minors or adults — and we help them set boundaries and come up with a new way of dealing with what’s going on in their chaotic homes,” she said.

The group supports parents with children who are struggling from problems, like substance abuse and mental health issues, and offers resources to help the parents figure out a plan that could work for their families.

The children are not present at the meetings as the meetings are focused on the mothers and fathers. More than 700 families have been helped in San Diego since the group started, Sisca Hazlett said.

She said she believes the program gives the parents hope.

One of the key elements of the meetings, she said, is parents don’t just discuss their issues. They are given plans each week to ease the problems at home.

“The minute they come in, you see the change,” she said. “It helps them to have an action plan. It empowers them. It gives them peace. Even if things are still chaotic, there’s this peace that comes with having a plan and knowing how to move forward.”

An Encinitas mother, who did not wish to provide her name, said a friend recommended BILY to her when her son’s grades were slipping and he was becoming very defiant and getting into trouble with the law.

She said BILY has effectively helped her marriage and her family’s situation.

“My husband and I learned and keep learning more communication strategies with our family and with each other,” the woman said. “We are on the same page with regard to discipline and our son is doing so much better.”

For more information about BILY, visit https://www.bilysc.org/encinitas


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