Parenting teenagers is hard. Parenting teenagers during a global pandemic? Near impossible. At 4Front, it has always been our mission to support teens and over the past four years, we have committed to doing so through both direct engagement with teens and with the adults who care about them. In these challenging times, 4Front is excited to share the return of our parent programming, now under a new platform called Parenting Unpacked.
What is Parenting Unpacked?
Parenting Unpacked is a resource, toolbox, and support network for parents of teens. The platform aims to offer renewed support and guidance to our parent community. Through virtual and in-person programs and gatherings, Parenting Unpacked will bring parents together in a safe and trusted space to learn from experts, connect and share with one another, and gain valuable tools to help you support your children through these transformative teenage years. Through varying opportunities like our speaker series, book clubs, support groups, and other programs, we hope to use Parenting Unpacked to find ways to connect parents to one another and build relationships without fear of judgment, while also providing tangible tools and information.
Why did you decide to revamp your programming for parents?
In the past, 4Front’s parent offerings have been mostly one-off, episodic workshops and speakers aimed to inform parents on topics like adolescent development, preparing teens for college and the post-high school transition, and helping teens thrive. While parents both appreciated and valued these programs, we found this format had several limitations.
First, the episodic nature of these programs did not allow parents to build relationships with one another and thus many were uncomfortable sharing personal experiences for fear of judgment or “parent shaming”. In our new platform, we hope to move the needle in this area by creating facilitated, ongoing opportunities for parents to build trust and community. We believe this is a crucial piece of the puzzle as studies have shown that parents of teens are a highly isolated group- something that has only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. When children are young, formal opportunities for parenting support are plentiful, and activities for young children often bring together parents as well, providing easy opportunities to connect. Once these children hit their teenage years however, and especially once they begin driving, parents often become more cut off from one another and formal parenting support typically shifts away from the parent and to the complex needs of the teens themselves.
This highlights the second area we hope to adjust- with all the focus on teens, who’s looking out for the parents? In mental health care, it is often noted that our capacity to help others is largely affected by our own wellbeing. Basically, we’re only as good as our own mental health. With our new platform, we hope to take a two-pronged approach, helping parents care for their teens while also caring for themselves. If we can build a space of trust and connection, we hope parents will feel more comfortable opening up to one another, lowering their guard and granting themselves the outlet and support network they’re seeking.
What specific programs or services do you plan to implement in the coming months?
To kick off this new platform, we will be offering our first multi-session series this Spring focused on parenting in a pandemic. We have invited the renowned teen psychologist and educator Dr. Betsy Stone to teach and facilitate three sessions between March and April 2021. The series, titled “Are We Parenting or Simply Surviving? How to Care for Yourself and Your Children in a Pandemic” will feature three sessions, each introduced by an article related to that session’s topic, followed by a live presentation and an open, supportive space for conversation facilitated by Dr. Stone. The series is virtual, free to parents of teens and attendance at all three sessions is not required to participate.
See below for specific program dates and topics:
Session 1: March 4, 7:00-8:30pm – Trauma in your Brain and Body
Session 2: March 25, 7:00-8:30pm – That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief
Session 3: April 15, 7:00-8:30pm – “I Hate the Parent Covid Has Made Me”: Parenting During a Pandemic
You can register for this series at: 4front.formstack.com/forms/parentingunpacked_spring21
What kind of topics are you considering in the future?
Parenting teens is complex and through this platform, we hope to offer tangible resources and facilitated dialogue around many different topics under the larger umbrella of mental health and wellbeing. Future programs may touch on topics like managing stress, finding balance, parent teen communication, how to talk to your teens about sex and relationships, building resiliency, supporting LGBTQ+ teens, and more.
If a parent has suggestions or requests for future programming what is the best way to provide this feedback?
We want to be sure that with this new platform we are meeting the interests and needs of our parent community. If you have a specific topic you’d like to see offered, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The interested form on our Parenting Unpacked website provides an opportunity to express interest in future programs and a space to suggest topics: 4front.formstack.com/forms/pu_interest_form.
How can a parent receive information on upcoming programs?
If you’d like to receive information about future programs, complete our Parenting Unpacked interest form or subscribe to our email newsletters directly here: confirmsubscription.com/h/j/276EB93A776CBDB2
And follow us on Facebook for reminders at facebook.com/4frontbaltimore