Seminar conclusions

Linda Dunion, who chaired the seminar, summarised its conclusions as follows:

  1. Parents can feel daunted and alone and that matters for anyone preparing information for parents. The fact that there is a booklet on a particular topic says to parents that they are not alone. And this is as important as the information it contains.
  2. Parents need to understand that the difficulties expressed by teenagers are not 'personal'. It is important for parents to know, when they feel as if their teenager is 'blaming them for breathing', that this time will pass.
  3. There are changes to the brain during the teenage years. Understanding this is vital as it explains why some teenagers are the way they are. It is a part of life.
  4. Learning how to communicate with children is a core skill for parents, whatever the child's age. Parents need to listen to children and negotiate; and not just tell them what to do.
  5. There are difficult and scary issues for parents and teenagers: self-harm, suicide, drug taking - parents are often frightened of doing the wrong thing.
  6. There is a mismatch between perception and reality, for example the prevalence of drug taking. It is important to make sure parents are informed but also not to be unduly frightened or given an inflated view of risk.
  7. Key topics for parents are the internet and drugs. Parents do not necessarily have their own experiences of these to draw on. For example, social media is new for everyone.
  8. Information providers should make sure that designs are not off-putting; avoid jargon; and ensure that content works for both parents and teenagers. Information materials should include contact information and signposting to more details or sources of help.
  9. It is important to consult with parents of teenagers with learning disabilities/disabilities and also to consider the particular needs of teenagers who are carers.
  10. We need to look at the role of schools which are an important source of information for parents and teenagers. However, schools also need to teach the curriculum.  So, there are unresolved questions about the role of schools and what can be expected of them.
  11. Interventions work best when they involve trained professionals, are not too brief; and have a sound theoretical basis. Evidence from evaluation is vital.
  12. The Scottish Government has committed funding to the National Parenting Strategy: there is money behind it. This is significant.
  13. Teenagers want to know they are loved. This should be a touchstone for all work with parents.