The Rocky, Risky Road of Adolesence

Carolyn McKee, Assistant Head of School for Student Life
Our Parent Education Committee recently sponsored "Alcohol, Teenagers, and Social Hosting," a panel discussion featuring Kate Dion, an attorney from Robinson &​ Cole; Dan Weiner and Geoff Genser, therapists from Family Resource &​ Development Center in West Hartford; and Bloomfield Police Sergeant Ellen White ‘93. These professionals shared their experiences in working with adolescents, focusing on the risky behavior that is inherent to this age group and the possible consequences of teens' decisions and misjudgments.
Kate Dion discussed CT's laws regarding social hosting (and parents' related liability). Officer White suggested things parents can do to help kids make good decisions about parties, including creating a guest list, having parents bring kids to the house, being present during parties in their own homes, and calling ahead to confirm that host parents will be present. She also reminded parents that they can call their local police departments (most towns have tip lines) if they have concerns. Geoff Genser and Dan Weiner reviewed the basics of adolescent development, citing examples of normal and at-risk adolescent behaviors and sharing their tips for parents.
Things like:
  • Be aware of the world adolescents live in day-to-day.
  • Validate them and listen without judgment.
  • Establish boundaries; be their friendly parent, not their friend.
  • Set clear limits and expectations -- but expect them to test the limits.
  • Use reasonable, not reaction-based, consequences.
  • Limit the lecturing and encourage dialogue (ask questions, let them teach you something).
  • Reward positive behaviors (honesty, responsibility, etc.).
During the Q&​A session that followed, parents heard what was on the mind of fellow parents and considered possible strategies for approaching various situations. One great example: Create a code word or a plan for your child to contact you if she/​he needs to escape from a challenging situation. The panelists also shared these great resources:
National Institute of Drug Abuse: scientific information about drugs
Generating Winners: resources and information about high school and college-aged kids and parents
Common Sense Media: info for teens, parents, and teachers about social media, apps, and digital citizenship
I left the evening’s presentation thinking about all that our teens are dealing with: peer pressure, social media, heightened independence provided by a driver’s license, proms, graduation, to name just a few. So, I will end this, my final blog, as I began my first one: Boy Am I Glad I'm Not a Teenager Today!
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Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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