A helpline for fed-up parents — New Jersey’s best-kept secret?
As a parent, how many times have you just had enough?
If you've still got kids or teens in tow, there's an outlet for you any day, any time in New Jersey — and it's one that advocates are certain is not being utilized as often as it should be.
"It's the best-kept secret in New Jersey," said Kathleen Roe, executive director of Parents Inc. "We've been operating the helpline for 40 years."
The Family Helpline, operated by Parents Inc., offers free, confidential, around-the-clock support to parents and caregivers who just need to vent, or have serious questions about parenthood and keeping their kids safe and well.
"Yes, our line is a referral line and a crisis line, but the most important thing about our line is that we're a listening line," Roe said. "We always answer the phone with a trained, sympathetic volunteer, usually a parent themselves."
The nonprofit handles 3,000 to 7,000 calls per month, Roe said. Still, she hears from parents all the time who say they wish they had known about this line when their baby had colic, or their teenager was driving them to the end of their rope.
"We sell people this myth about what it's like to be a parent. Nobody really prepares you for how hard it is," Roe said. "As someone with children that are now adults, I can tell you, parenting never ends."
The number to call is 1-800-THE-KIDS. Roe said there are plans to launch a texting service this summer.
Parents Inc. also runs free parent support groups throughout New Jersey and virtually.