Whether you’re Mom, Dad, Grandpa or Grandma, you can make an investment in your family

So… your two-year-old has just left a full set of teethprints in the arm of your neighbour’s baby.

So… your four-year-old has accused you with child abuse for disciplining her.

So… your 12 year old is smoking in the washroom at school… and at home!

So… your 14 year old refuses to utter a single word to either parent.

It goes on and on. Anybody who’s doing it will quickly admit that parenting is the toughest job in the world–and the one for which they’ve received the least preparation. And often, when our kids catch us up it’s hard to turn to friends whose offspring seem often perfect.

It’s for this reason that the Barrie Parenting Fair came into being and tomorrow is the seventh year that the day-long event has promised to send families away in better shape than they arrived.

Seven years ago, the first ever Parenting Fair was a co-sponsored event, with the financial and practical support of the Barrie Huronia Rotary Club and the development and coordination of the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society. Judi Shields, Communications Director for the CAS (and formerly a writer for the Advance’s predecessor, The Banner), remembers well the commitment of Alf Dick whose enthusiasm for kids and the welfare of families fuelled his Rotary Club’s support of this brand new project.

“Alf and I had alot in common in those days,” remembers Judi. We were both new grandparents. We were watching our kids face different challenges than we had faced. We saw that as parents, our own kids could do a better job than we’d done, with new ideas.

We mused wouldn’t it be nice to have a conference that would help parents adapt to the individual needs of their children. And with a grant, the first Barrie Parenting Fair was held in the Rotunda at City Hall, featuring child psychologist Dr Peter Marshall and family counsellor Roberta Beecroft. Workshops rounded out the day and 35 people attended.

And when the first session gets underway tomorrow morning at 9 am, it’s expected that hundreds of people and their children will catch Dr Peter Marshall’s kick-off session on Children and Television. Peter, father of five, will explore the serious side effects of Canadian children’s number one leisure activity.

The topics for tomorrow’s event, which opens at 8:30 am with registration and day care provided by the Barrie Y (toilet trained children only please), include today’s concerns for today’s parents… bullying with Dr. Glenn DiPasquale, chief psyhchologist of York Region School Board; discipline with Joanne McFarland who’ll lead parents in discussions of discipline methods that maintain digniture and invite cooperation.

Other workshops promise to be just as popular. Ann Douglas, author of baby and pregnancy books, will share lots of baby information. Sue Johanson, noted broadcaster and anchor of the Sunday Night Sex Show will give frank information about how to talk to your kids about sex. Anger is an afternoon workshop as is Seeds of Self Esteem. Dr. Tim Bilkey, psychiatrist, will discuss Attention Deficit Disorder and the family dynamic.

Joe Rich, MSW, RSW, will give the keynote address from 11 am to 12:30 pm. Families are guaranteed to laugh while they learn and do a battery recharge. Joe is popular as the guest therapist and parenting expert on City TV’s CityLine. Refreshments? Tim Horton’s. On site.

There’s so much crammed into a day that ends at 4 pm. At $20 for the entire day, it’s likely the best investment you can make for yourself, your kids and your sanity.

It’s all being held at the new Bear Creek Secondary School, 100 Red Oak Dr., which is at the corner of Mapleview Dr and County Road 27. For oldtimers, that’s old County Rd 131 and there’s an entrance to the school from there. The school’s layout invites lots of parenting information, activities and products booths from Barrie and area organizations.

Lots to see. Lots to learn.

This event is the results of hours of volunteer work by dozens of people. Rotarians are on hand to take registrations, help get people to their workshop locations, help sort out details, meet and greet. Children’s Aid Society staff are on hand to support the entire day. You’ll be able to talk with private schools, music teachers, tutoring programs, financial planning programs etc. at their booths.

Thanks, Huronia Rotary. Thanks, CAS. And thanks, to the many community businesses who are sponsoring the day’s activities.