Raising children can be a difficult job, one with challenges most have not been prepared to tackle. The staff at the Meramec Adventure Ranch near Steelville want to help, and will be hosting an evening gathering once a month for any area parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone else involved in raising children of any age.
Ranch staff will be opening up the lodge on the third Monday of every month beginning on February 17 for people to get together, drink some coffee, and talk through the challenges of raising kids of character in a crazy world. There is no formal agenda—it's just a time with Ranch staff and other people raising kids to work through the real-life challenges facing parents, and help them realize that they are not alone out there, and that there are practical answers to some of their most difficult challenges.
Brett Bailey, Ranch director, said they decided to hold the gatherings after hearing the need in the community, often just listening to parents voicing their frustrations about issues they’ve faced with their children. He noted those can be a variety of things, from the mundane to the more serious: struggling in school, showering without using soap, refusing to sleep in their own bed, introducing sensitive topics, navigating boyfriends and girlfriends, setting boundaries but encouraging independence, dealing with addictions and mental health concerns, changing roles as children grow older.
“We’re up for anything,” Bailey said. “The principles we’ll talk about will cover all ages, and will be universally applicable.”
Bailey, along with his wife Ashley, and staff member Kassey Odneal, will facilitate the gatherings. They hope to provide an outlet where parents will open up about the challenges they are facing and realize others are dealing with similar situations. Those who attend will drive the discussion, based on the issues they share.
“We’re all in this together,” he said. “In today’s society, everybody feels isolated, but we want to let parents know others are going through the same things—that their problems aren’t unique.”
In addition to listening to the concerns, Ranch staff will be able to offer practical answers to address them. They have experience in addressing a wide range of behaviors and the emotional issues that drive them, and will be able to share resources. Other parents and caregivers at the gatherings can also give suggestions.
“It’s a group of people that have a lot of experience and a community of people that can provide support,” Bailey said.
There is no cost to attend the gatherings, called “Parent Coffee and Questions.” The parent nights will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Ranch Lodge/Learning Center on February 17, March 16, April 20, and May 18.
Directions to the Lodge are as follows: From Steelville, travel east on Highway 8 for 1.75 miles from the three-way stop. Turn left on Highway TT (at the top of the hill outside of town), and travel exactly one mile. Turn left at the “Meramec Ranch” sign (on the left) onto Trails End Road. Travel on Trails End Road for 1.3 miles. At that point, the road makes a 90-degree turn to the left, but go straight through the gate onto Meramec Wilderness Lane. Follow that gravel road past several houses and barns for one mile until it dead ends at the Learning Center/Lodge.
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