Ohio Family Story: Parent University — A Personal Experience
In the Spring of 2019 I attended a free day of educational sessions at my local school District in Hilliard, Ohio that focused on student and family well-being. It was conveniently held on a Saturday from 9:00 am -3:00 pm and a free boxed lunch was provided if you stayed the whole day. The event was called, Be Well-Parent University, and prior to the event they posted a series of 15 or more session topics that you could choose from each hour. The topics included things like anxiety, stress, depression, substance abuse, social media safety, bullying, and many more. The topics immediately grabbed my attention and so I asked several parents if they were interested in attending. A close friend of mine attended with me, as she and I have a boy and girl of similar ages. We were particularly interested in attending the sessions that talked about Anxiety and Confidence levels for our girls and wanted to learn more strategies how to gain more tech-life balance for our boys. We attended three sessions and they were all incredibly informative and we came away with some practical ideas to help our children. I think the one session that we enjoyed the most was the “Gift of Failure”. This session was based off of a book and as soon as we left, we started employing chores, or “household contributions”! It also allowed us to recognize that we need to stop trying to make everything perfect for their life path in life and let them fail as a way to learn valuable lessons.
They shared a brief video of a child going down a very steep ski slope for the first time and she was terrified. Instead of the parent swooping in and saying, “you don’t have to do it” or “hurry up, there are people waiting behind us”, the parent was patient and let the child go through what felt like 10 minutes of fear and emotion before she finally went down the slope and had an incredible experience. I think we were all in tears at the end. Although we could not stay for the entire day, we were so impressed with the speakers and how many concerned caregivers came out for the event. As a parent it really made you realize you are not alone dealing with similar issues and concerns. We were all there to learn how to be better parents and are concerned for the well-being of our children no matter what the age. My girlfriend and I are praying they host another one this year and have told so many people about our experience.
-Kristin Meek-Hennon, Program Coordinator, The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center