Monday, 3 June 2013

Parenting Teens

Okay, I'm back. And yes, I was away long enough that I had forgotten my username and password and of course I hadn't written them down (because that would be so un-security conscious, right?) so I had to figure out which account I had attached them to, and re-set my passwords and that took most of my time right there.

Yeah, like you never do that. Hmmm, maybe you don't. Maybe it's just me. Maybe the rest of you have a system?

I'm digressing. It was a busy week in my Jewish life and I'm not sure I'm ever going to get to all of it, but maybe I'll start with the most recent and work backwards.

I went to the lecture series last Thursday night offered by NCSY on parenting teens.

It was really good. The speakers were Dr. Simon Davidson, the chief of psychiatry at CHEO, Dr. Jacob Kaiserman who is an adolescent psychologist and Bram Bregman, the NCSY Executive Director. Each of them focused on different aspects of teen growth, and then there was discussion and then dessert and a more informal discussion.

Each spoke briefly and then there was time for questions and discussion afterwards. There was tons of discussion. I'm sure they'd call it "lively discussion". I recognized many of the people in the audience as we all have kids about the same age.

I did take notes, but I'm paraphrasing and summarizing what they said, and I clearly don't have exactly what they said. But I welcome your comments on their talks that night. And if you get the chance to go and hear them, I would encourage it.

Dr. Davidson started and talked about adolescents striving for maturity, and parents, striving to deal with that. And then he had some specific parenting pointers he wanted to make: I think the pointers were fairly simple, keep communication lines open, eat dinner together, don't try to catch your kids doing the wrong things, but rather the right things, and picking your battles.

Dr. Kaiserman talked about relationships, attachment and how our goal for our children is for them to become good people. We want strong relationships with our children. He talked about emotional intelligence and empathy, and setting limits, and that we don't have to be right all the time.

And then Bram Bregman talked about identity and growing up Jewish and developing a positive sense of Jewish identity. He had three main points, the importance of personally meaningful Judaism, that a positive Jewish identity is rooted in positive Jewish experiences and he even said that if the end result of dragging your teens to Yom Kippur made them angry it was better not to take them (yeah, I know, shocking). And he talked about the importance of Jewish friends and peer groups and he talked about getting the kids to engage in Judaism, including family and community rituals and activities.

I suspect that there aren't many people who know more about engaging Jewish teens in a positive way than Bram Bregman, and I was very interested in what he had to say. I think we should get him to come talk to us Trippies, what do you think?

I found all of them made a lot of sense, but I don't think I've done any of them much justice here.

I think most people had questions, but of course we are somewhat reluctant to "out" our kids by asking questions that might come back to haunt them. The questions dealt with social media, recognizing red flags, giving kids responsibility among other things.

The discussion was lively, and I think everyone was glad they had come.


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