Event allows parents inside their teenager’s mind

Posted at 5:52 AM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 05:53:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- For parents, getting into a mind of a teenager is nearly impossible. But a local event is hoping to make it a bit easier to figure out.

You’ve likely wondered what the teenagers in your life might be thinking. Some, harder to read than others but when it comes to bullying, relationships and school pressure there are some things parents should know.

Wedgwood Christian Services is hosting its annual State of the Child, bringing experts from around the community together with students and families to offer insight and provide support.

West Michigan mother Katie Rozen knows all too well the complications of raising a child. "You know they say it takes a village to raise a child," Rozen said.

Her daughter is only 7, but time flies and soon she’ll be a teen.

"The resulting mental health issues they have: anxiety, depression," she said, "I'd assume some parents have no idea the depth of some of these things and how kids are being affected."

The upcoming event will give adults the opportunity to listen. "I think it's a good learning opportunity for these parents to learn what their kids are exposed to," Rozen said. "We all know alcohol and drugs can be prevalent in any situation, but the bullying has taken a turn with social media, and I didn't understand before that there's a lot of social media apps and things that really create incognito bullying."

The event takes parents inside the minds of high school students. A panel of local experts is offering insight on how to support and empower teens. The panel includes Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, experts from Wedgwood Christian Services, a Kent County judge, and a local superintendent.

"Some of our kids report that their parents are too easy to get things over on," Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said. "A lot of that has to do with not having enough tools, enough ways to understand what’s going on, or the context to put behaviors in, so that what we hope parents walk away with."

Questions are encouraged as the panel prompts conversation about the challenges kids face today like relationships, mental health, and pressure.

"Some things we want our attendees to understand is, first, the issues that our youth are facing, how can we support them, and understand that Wedgwood Christian Services is a valuable resource in the community," said project coordinator Nikeidra Debarge.

At last year’s event, teens didn’t hold back talking about how easy it is to get their hands on drugs.

"There’s all sorts of different things out there that don't even look like drugs," Rozen said. "They package them for children, and, again, I think the average parent wouldn’t be paying attention to those things."

"Teens are faced with so many different things, and it's important as an agency who works with youth to also be a voice for the youth and make sure they have a platform to talk about things happening," Debarge said.

"I'm excited to go this year," Rozen said. "It helped me in my role as a mom, even more so helped me as a community member."

This event will be at Frederik Meijer Gardens Tuesday, April 30, 8-10 a.m., and is open to anyone in West Michigan who has, cares for, or works with kids.

Tickets are $25. You can register for the event here.