View Full Version : Parenting Resources Web Forum Help Requested

Lew Barrett
06-10-2008, 12:19 AM
First, I'm trolling, but as I hope most of you know, I'm not a troll.

My wife and her professional colleagues are looking to improve a web forum that acts as a resource for parents of teens in trouble. What kind of topics and headings do you think should be included?

Here on good ol' WBF we have "Building and Repair." "the Bilge," etc. etc. What do you think would be a good way to organize a site for a forum that was aimed at providing help and support for parents of kids with drug and substance abuse problems?

Your thoughts about drug and substance abuse are fair game, but we're asking that this thread not be hijacked and become a place where we argue about how to deal with troubled kids. The focus is on how to organize a web based resource using a forum as one of the tools. If you want to help, know that any useful information gleaned here will be turned over to some very smart people, like doctors, psychiatrists and DCs, and they're not necessarily looking for your insights on addiction so much as they are on how to best organize their site.

I'm asking you, my friends, to act as a surrogate to get some people introduced to how forums work and what sort of help they can give those in trouble and in need. What we seem to do well here is form community around personal problems, so that's why I suggested WBF as a model. Of course, we can also be perfect asses, but I'm looking to discuss our better angels. Your thoughts on what make us work best as a community are really what is needed, and perhaps why our format seems to rise above the noise from time to time to accomplish a sense of community.

Your best ideas may, with your permission to use them which you give tacitly by posting here, be passed along for consideration. Am I being clear enough?


06-10-2008, 12:34 AM
I'll say right off that I can't offer much help, and pray that I am never forced to learn enough to be able to. That said, this is a noble, worthy effort and I wish your wife and her colleagues all the success in the world. Hopefully I will never need the resource, but you never know what challenges life will pose. It will no doubt help someone, and that will make it worthwhile.


The Bigfella
06-10-2008, 12:48 AM
Lew - if I took that on as an assignment, the first thing I'd do would be to run a focus group with some troubled kids. Let them come up with the topics - their language, their priority. In fact, I reckon the best thing that you could do would be to get a group of them to get it happening - just act as mentors to the process.

C. Ross
06-10-2008, 01:00 AM
National Alliance on Mental Illness has community forums. Here's a C&P of their topics (I trimmed the descriptions after the first couple, but you get the idea)

Discussion Groups
College & Young Adults (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=70&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet people who've been there. 640
Communities of Faith (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=50&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet other people of faith. 737
Consumer Employment (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=191&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Discuss issues regarding entering or being in the workforce when you have mental illness. 145
Consumers (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=27&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet people who've been there. 451
Criminal Justice Forum (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=64&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Share knowledge and support with consumers, family members and others who are dealing with the criminal justice system. 223
GLBT Consumers and Supporters (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=239&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Discuss mental health issues for the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) community; ask questions, find support, and share your expertise. 126
Grading the States 2006 (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=201&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y) Share your comments, reactions, personal stories and ideas around NAMI's report on the state of America's health care system for serious mental illness (www.nami.org/grades (http://www.nami.org/grades)). 120
Homeless Forum (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=248&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Hurricane Katrina Information (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=178&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
International and Multicultural Forum (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=72&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Lideres Latinos (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=99&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with a Personality Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=12&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with AD/HD (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=25&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with an Eating Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=8&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Anxiety Disorders (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=2&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=3&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=9&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Major Depression (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=1&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Mental Illness & Substance Abuse (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=16&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with OCD (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=6&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Panic Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=11&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=13&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=22&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Living with Schizophrenia (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=4&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Mental Illness in My Family (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=30&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Missing Persons (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=192&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
My Parent is a Consumer (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=33&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Para consumidores de salud mental (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=39&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Para familiares y amigos de personas que tienen enfermedades mentales (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=55&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Para hermanos de personas con enfermedades mentales (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=84&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Parents and Caregivers of Child/Teen Consumers (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=32&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Parents of Adult Consumers (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=31&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Read and Respond (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=83&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Self-injury (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=149&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Siblings of Consumers (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=34&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Spouses of Consumers (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=35&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
State Medicaid Forum (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=79&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Teen Consumers (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=28&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)
Veterans Forum (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=all_discussion_groups&template=/Forums/TopicDisplay.cfm&ForumID=37&ForumActiveFlag=Y&TopicActiveFlag=Y)

To me, this list looks too long, and divided into too many specialty topics. I understand why someone might want a specific group around, say, self-injury, but you gotta think that overlaps with other issues. It would be bad if the forum had "sailboat repair" and a "powerboat repair" groups. (hey, hey, no thread drift now!)

I looked at AA and they have no forum online. I looked at Hazelden (a famous treatment center), and they have online groups but require a registration.

Captain Blight
06-10-2008, 03:36 AM
Whatta list!!

Lew, you and your wife et. al. have certainly set a chore for yourself. But you've taken the first step in realizing that community is all about shared experience. What makes a community work well is shared experience; the novelist Spider Robinson said in a few of his books that "pain shared is pain lessened; joy shared is joy increased." I think if you make that your watchword, you won't be too far wrong.

One thing about at-risk youth is that they're often quite bright, in my experience. And the ones that aren't too bright are often quite canny. Something you might look at is setting up the forum with separate "usergroups" that require admin addition to access, and keep those areas strictly segregated so that what happens on deck (so to speak) stays on deck. Maybe not all of it but it'd be nice if the parents don't have to worry about what they say on the forum being read and used for ammunition--or filed away for future evasive action-- by snooping kids. Or make it a pay site, with some stupid pittance like a dollar thru PayPal, to make it enough of a hassle that the chirruns don't want to go through to join.

You should definitely have a free-for-all sub-forum like The Bilge where people can sling mud to their heart's content; crappy parenting is to blame for a lot of at-risk youth, and the parents who are responsible should get to hear that from others in the same boat. If nothing else, I think strict moderation would be a hindrance rather than a help; there's enough nannying going on in life without a perfectly good drifting thread being forced back on track. That turns a conversation into a lecture, and no one likes being lectured at.


Milo Christensen
06-10-2008, 04:28 AM
Main sub-forums should probably be kept to a minimum. I'll suggest:

Does my teen have a problem?
How to talk to my teen about the problem.
Intervention - should I and how do I?
Success stories

Wild Wassa
06-10-2008, 04:42 AM
Open forums are a bit difficult in these areas, not wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater and we see how fraught things become here and we are not even talking about higher issues. Parents don't often get a chance to talk to each other, not really in everyday life. It is not like sharing ideas like we do here, about paint and replanking. You need to be very careful because these types of issues are emotionally charged and what works for one set of parents and their family may not work for another.

Parents can be helped by talking to other parents of course but you will need to moderate this carefully because people will set themselves up as experts and can do more harm than good.

Fact sheets/tip sheets go down well with parents about a whole range of issues that affect teenagers.

Forums must be seriously moderated by a professional clinician, because these matters are emotionally charged and very individual.

Topics could be,

How to communicate with your teenagers.

What is normal behavior.

Child development.

Conflict with peers/bullying.

Self harming behaviour and risk taking.

How parents can look after themselves.

Where else to seek help and resources.

These are just a small sample of topics that my wife Helen suggested. Helen is a counsellor who works with both teenagers and their parents in a co-ed secondary school where the ages of the kids range from between 12-18.


Vince Brennan
06-10-2008, 09:16 AM
Warren and Milo have both gotten one of the most important things to have a forum subsection for: How to talk to (really communicate) with your teenager. Possibly the most frustrating and insurmountable problem (as we have seen here) is trying to get your point across without it turning into a "us vs. them" situation.

Surely SOMEONE out there has the handle on this... I know I sure didn't.

Lew Barrett
06-10-2008, 10:17 AM
Milo and Warren are headed in the direction I was hoping for.

I'm not involved too much with the organization by the way, just listen to my wife talk about it. I should be clear it's her work, not mine.

Actually, this post came out of a discussion Cris, my wife and I had, as he is sure to remember.

It's not a bad point to ask the users what they need from the forum.
It's been our developing thought that a community of people with a problem that by any accounting is both humiliating and frightening but who are nonetheless willing to discuss it in the clear with people who have been there before and know the ropes could be a great tool.

I don't think there's anything on the net quite like what we're discussing now, largely because the problem isn't one that people like either to admit to or discuss in public.

If we were all honest with ourselves, we'd realize two things. The first is that substance abuse harms everyone that is anywhere near it. The second is that substance abuse is a huge problem that is, by and large, ignored by those whose help is most needed. Even if you're not afflicted by someone in your circle having a problem, it's likely that the person who broke into your car or stole from you was a drug addict. Our jails are full of such people. Putting this issue in the public eye is another reason to launch an effort.

06-10-2008, 10:41 AM
There seems to be some confusion in the discussion -- let's make this clear. We're talking about the structure of a forum for parents, not for the kids themselves, right?

For what it's worth, I would not hurry imposing a rigid structure on the place. Start with a few general categories, see which balloon and which wither. The ones that grow too big -- subdivide them. If there's someone who can commit a lot of time to maintaining it, maybe set up a wiki.


Lew Barrett
06-10-2008, 12:44 PM
Parents, right.

But now that you mention it, there should probably be an "ahem" users forum for kids too. That's a harder concept to get your arms around though. Could be moderated by the winners, I suppose, or a place for successful people to meet. AA covers a lot of that territory though it could be a good service area anyway.

Good suggestions, keep them coming please.


George Jung
06-10-2008, 01:38 PM
I finally caught up with this thread. Great idea (and good suggestions). But honestly, this is a really tough problem, and I'm having difficulty seeing anything obvious that will work.

1) you'd certainly need a Scott-like character. And I'd suggest everyone entering such a forum have a forum-name. (They'd have to register the real Mccoy with Scott).

2) The idea of a kids' forum is intriguing - but - I wonder how that'd work. With Big Brother (ADULTS) looking over their shoulders, I wonder how forthcoming they'd be.

3) In my lil' corner of this problem, one of the biggest problems I see, with problem kids, is problem parents. Many of the kids in our local 'kids academy' come from single parent homes, not enough funds, virtually no interest in the kids. But a friend of mine (married) has adopted 4 kids, all older when this occurred. It's been a nightmare, and from what I've seen, these folks have no idea how to be a parent (but they try to be their kids friends/peers). They can't set limits. They can't say NO and mean it. There's no enforcement. But he can spout the literature, and much of what they teach folks with problem kids, are various 'seminars'. Point of fact, he and his wife are at least as much the problem as the kids are. And how do you help someone in that boat? (enough, sorry).

I'll be following with interest. It's got a lot of potential, and if I'm not careful, I may become less cynical and actually learn something. thanks, Lew!

Lew Barrett
06-10-2008, 04:08 PM
My experience with reformed teenagers is that they are fearless, devoted, improved and spectacular human beings. But they have to be with the program first. A topic heading for them could be very inspiring.
Druggies who are still addicted would be the last to sign on. The kids who made it could offer hope to the parents of kids who were at risk, and share their own stories with others in like situations. Addicts are irresolute when they are still using, and can't be reasoned with. Hope is the first thing a parent needs to latch onto. Not giving up on their kid or giving in to delusion or denial is the next important step.
A properly done forum might be one place among several to express these thoughts, and list the resources of a given community.
It could also be a place where people could come so they didn't feel alone or ashamed but understood that their battle has been "done before" by others who understand the process and can offer some insight. Bad things can happen to good people.

This thread will probably be watched by people who have an interest outside our own community. I knew I could count on you guys.

Lew Barrett
06-10-2008, 04:22 PM
I signed onto the web fora you linked to. Interesting. I found it curious that there was no section dedicated to drug use or addiction. I don't know if it absolutely confirms Lindy's comment that drug addiction is not dealt with as a mental disorder or identified as such (inasmuch as addiction is frequently viewed as self inflicted rather than as a co-occurring disorder) but it certainly helps make the case for the unique possibilities of web based resources.

06-10-2008, 04:37 PM
The only thing I have to add at this point is that their version of Scott would have to, well to be blunt, be Scott more often. Things can get really intense around here, and there is really nothing at stake. In the forum your wife is proposing, people would come there with everything at stake, their emotions raw, and their heart in their hands. Their Scott might have to be ruthless in weeding out the trolls, stalkers, and trouble-makers. And yet, make these raw, frenzied, hurting parents feel welcome.

I do know that when you are troubled, and we all are at some point, talking to someone with similar troubles can help. About 17 years ago, our first daughter died at birth. Our families weren't a whole lot of help, but the "kindness of strangers" we met during those times was just amazing. My wife and I have commented several times over the years about the paradox of that phrase, but it is simply the truth. It is part of what makes this forum so amazing. You, yourself, are an excellent example of that with the way you befriended and helped Meer. Anyway, best of luck with this endeavour.


Lew Barrett
06-10-2008, 06:18 PM
To be clear, a site already exists; they're considering mechanisms to improve it. It's not my wife's site and I agree; clear moderation is important in this sort of effort. Bad advice, even given with good intentions, should be removed out of respect to those who might be confused. The moderator will have to be both clear and well informed. At the moment the site is unmoderated; a problem.

Meer was a great opportunity to learn tolerance and kindness. I have been constantly reminded that the things we might do for others returns to us in the most remarkable ways. Is there anything in this world that connects you more, resonates more, than the feeling that you did something decent and it was appreciated? It's most incredible how nice it feels to give. Something I usually forget on a day to day basis.

06-10-2008, 06:27 PM
I'd think book, speaker, organization and training 'reviews' (pro and con like Amazon allows) would be helpful for any forum member. The "Was this helpful for you?" rating function is something I wish we could have here.

06-10-2008, 06:50 PM
And and "Ideas" section....things parents have used successfully. Someone else's idea just might work for you....

C. Ross
06-11-2008, 12:27 AM
NAMI is a good organization but for whatever reason leaves substance abuse to others. Seems silly to me.

This may be a topic where a large number of participants just lurk and don't post. So I liked your ideas of getting some ringers to post, and also creating a "bilge" where people could swap recipes when they weren't talking about cocaine addiction in their kids...I wonder what other folks here would think of that.

rbgarr...I had a "rating the experts" thread a couple of weeks ago, and got shot down pretty roundly. (I still think it's kind of a good idea...)

Wild Wassa
06-11-2008, 01:57 AM
I don't think that kids would want to tap into a site like this.

They have their own social networking forums which are incredibly huge, like My Space, Face Book and Bebo, where they talk endlessly about themselves and post their own blogs.

Whether these are good or bad is a matter of opinion.

There are other sites that are not Forums that are information websites designed for young people to help them gain a better understanding of mental health issues.

Sites like 'Reachout', 'Ybblue' which is a young person's version of 'Beyondblue' and Headspace.