However, the 20 parents and grandparents who recently graduated from her classes volunteered, she said.
Lopez recruited participants for the parenting workshop by going door-to-door at the center.
"I had to go into their classrooms and tell them what is it that we were going to do. We have a captive audience with our English as second language and computer classes," she said.
Lopez said the message she tried to impart to her students was, "We need to take charge and need to get involved with our children's lives and continue loving our children just as they are."
Contacted at her home after the Tuesday night graduation ceremony, Tovar said the class "showed you how to give love to your children."
Some of the parents told Lopez that earlier problems with their children could have been avoided "if I had only known this 10 years ago."
One of the parents, Lorena Kallen of Calexico, said she attended the workshop even though she hasn't had any major problems with her children.
"I'm worried that I might," she said.
"What's happening today with the kids, it's because of the parents. If the kids are out of control, for me, it's the problem of the parents," she said.
Parts of the class that Kallen thought were particularly informative were presentations on gang activity.
"It is important to know what is happening in the city. One of the speakers told us about gangs and how to spot telltale signs," she said.
Lopez said the class taught the parents how to lay the foundation for those who want to change the behavior of their children.
"You have to understand the children," she said.
Participants in the class used role-playing and studied printed materials to learn how to understand their children, but the "basis of everything is love and affection," Lopez said.
"We don't have the power but we do have the influence over our kids," she added.
The next workshop will begin Jan. 21 and run to Feb. 8.
"It's a three-week course; Monday through Thursday. There will be two schedules, 8 to 11 a.m. and the other one from 12 to 2:30 p.m.," Lopez said.
A similar workshop will start Jan. 23 and run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. eight Wednesdays in a row. There will be child-care service available free of charge. Lopez said the classes are free, although most school districts charge for materials.
"We don't charge for it," she said of the materials.
For more information, call the center at 768-3914.
Lopez hopes the center will be able to expand the workshop to include concurrent classes for children and activities for toddlers.
>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org