Roundtable Discussion Event for Parents of Teenagers: US Middle School

Discussion by and for Parents of Early Adolescents

No matter where you are, time flies when parents of teenagers get together to talk about the challenges of raising healthy, successful, and respectful adolescents.  The Parent Involvement Team at a middle school in the US was joined by teachers and other members of staff learned this first-hand when they hosted a roundtable – a discussion by, and for, parents of early adolescents.  The discussion was led by a professional counsellor who offered parents a safe environment in which to share their experiences and solutions to common parenting concerns.  It was also a perfect opportunity for the counsellor to provide a few parenting tips and strategies for smoothing family relationships and improving behaviour at home and at school.

More than 30 parents attended the discussion, which was held at 7pm on a weeknight in the school library.  Over 100 more parents received notes by email and text on the topics discussed.  The counsellor – who was also a parent with two youngsters at the school – started with a short presentation.  He discussed some key concepts from the field of psychology, including the importance of setting boundaries for early adolescents.  'You are the parent, not the friend,' he advised.  'Staying consistent is key.  State consequences and stick with them.'

The counsellor went on to suggest other ways for parents and youngsters to build mutual respect.  For example, he advised parents to explain decisions they make, rather than say '...because I said so.'  They should also allow their child to make independent choices, such as what clothing to wear, and should support them when these choices are positive.

After the presentation, the counsellor presided over a Q & A session, which led to a lively group discussion amongst the parents.  The parents were keen to talk to one another about important challenges that arise in the teenage years.  One parent commented: 'This makes me feel better as a parent – that I am not alone with issues that come up.  I really like how open everyone can be in sharing their experiences.'  Others expressed interest in attending similar roundtable discussions in the future.

The event was promoted using flyers and social media announcements.  There were no extra costs involved, beyond planning time and strong commitments.

After some very positive feedback from parents, the Parent Involvement Team and school staff plan to host discussions next year on a variety of parenting topics with different guest speakers for each session.  They plan to film the presentations and share them on social media for those who can’t attend the event. 

Connect Comment: This is a great idea as parenting a teenager can be a very lonely and worrying time as a parent.  It would a great idea to get parents to share and reflect on their experiences of the event. Perhaps also use a title like 'Help, I’ve got a Teenager?!'


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