With any luck, the newly launched iGen Parenting education series will make it easier for parents to help their tweens navigate those transitional years.
Founded by Marni Steinberg, iGen Parenting is a new speaker series designed to help parents get information about the issues tweens face and get advice and information to support their children in healthy ways.
Steinberg — who has a daughter in second grade — said that she was inspired to create the series after hearing about some of her friends’ experiences with parenting their tweens.
“I started to hear all these stories about what was going on with them, and I felt that now that I have a child, I feel like I can see the future,” Steinberg said. “I thought it would be great to provide a resource to other parents so they can see what’s coming next and be more prepared to undertake those issues when dealing with their kids.”
iGen Parenting’s inaugural year has eight planned speakers stretching into 2020. Each month from August to April — with the exception of December — will feature experts qualified to speak on an array of subjects, from education, child psychology and drug prevention to bullying, technology and law.
The series started on Aug. 20 at the Valley of the Sun JCC and drew an audience of nearly 50 people.
The first expert was Katey McPherson, an educational consultant and public speaker. Rabbi Jeremy Schneider of Temple Kol Ami introduced her.
“When I was a child, I thought that my parents could do no wrong,” said Schneider, a father of four, to the audience. “But when I became older, I started to think that my parents could do no right.”
McPherson’s speech, “iGen Kids: Turning Distress to Success,” examined how technology use at home can foster positive relationships and how to reduce explicit content. She focused primarily on social media and video games.
McPherson started her career as a secondary school teacher, then later became a guidance counselor and a public speaker. Recently, she was the executive director of The Gurian Institute, an educational research organization that provides advanced on-site and online training for educators.
A mother of five, McPherson knows that parents can suffer from information overload, and that helping their children manage sports activities, academics and getting into college is often overwhelming.
“I think my generation, as parents, has done a disservice to our kids because we have imprinted our anxieties onto them,” McPherson said. “Unfortunately, a lot of what we’re seeing at home does start with the parents, and so Marni’s effort to get this information out there is awesome. We need more parents to engage in the series and hopefully we can make this go viral.”
Steinberg knows there are no easy answers for raising a tween, and the education series isn’t intended to offer concrete direction. Rather, she wants to provide parents with resources so they can make informed decisions.
“From my perspective being a parent, I would like to have a lot of information and then make my own decisions for what’s best for my child,” Steinberg said.
Many of the upcoming speeches will touch on issues that weren’t a challenge to parents when she was growing up, like when kids should get cell phones.
“Then there’s a debate on if it should be a smartphone or not,” Steinberg said. “Then that grows to what apps can a child have, or what age should they be for social media. These were clearly not around when we were younger, so it’s nice to have a barometer with other parents to hear from experts.”
Each event ends with a discussion during which parents can ask questions and share stories. “The idea isn’t just to hear the speakers, but to have an interactive dialogue for providing content and building community.”
The next talk, “Drugs in Middle School,” is on Sept. 17 and features speaker Stephanie Siete. JN