We need to talk…with parents!

Equipping parents for real talks with their tweens & teens

October is Let’s Talk Month, encompassing national and statewide initiatives supporting partnerships between families and organizations that serve them to foster open and honest parent-teen conversations.

Research shows that parents—the biggest influencers on teen’s decisions—are not talking often or openly about the risks that matter most during this time in their teen’s lives: sex, substance use and mental health. Teens who feel comfortable talking with their parents about these risks are more likely to delay sexual activity and use protection if they have sex, and are less likely to report depressive feelings or use substances.

As professionals, we recognize that parents are the key protective factor in reducing risk during the teen years and at the same time we know that these conversations can feel awkward, and that parents do not feel fully equipped to start and continue ongoing conversations. To help solve this dilemma, organizations like Possibilities for Change are leading the charge to develop resources supporting professionals working with parents and ultimately equipping parents for more productive conversations.  

Dr. Jennifer Salerno, founder of our nation’s leading youth risk-screening technology, RAAPS, developed the Teen Speak series as an answer to the lack of resources available for professionals to support parents in their conversations with their tweens and teens. Who needs parenting support more than parents of tweens and teens?

The Teen Speak course is the newest tool in the series and was developed as a fun, easy-to-implement, effective and engaging course to support parents in building their communication skills with their tweens and teens, from everyday topics like grades and cleaning their rooms to risk topics like sex and depression.

The self-guided course with video lessons, parent interviews, common scenarios and scripts, and action plans for practical application was designed for parents of tweens and teens to continue to build their relationships through the teens years and become the support person their teen comes to when they want to talk about their day or when they need to talk about something more serious.

Understanding that real transformation happens when the professionals supporting youth and their biggest influence—parents—work together, Teen Speak was created to be inclusive and relevant to all parents regardless of their home environment and health of their relationship.

Where can you start?  Here are some resources to Support Parents You Serve

  • If you missed the 30-minute webinar, It’s time for “the talk”…with parents! access the recording here.  Dr. Salerno and iRT researchers and developers of Media Aware Parent share information on strengthening parent-teen communication to reduce risk.
  • For more information on the Teen Speak Course and options for offering access to the parents you serve click here.
  • Share this brief, skill building webinar with parents: Decode your tween/teen – 3 simple strategies that will instantly transform your conversations!  Click here to access this webinar.

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