Growing up in today’s world is tough. Parenting in today’s world is even tougher. 

Many kids deal with big life issues every day—vaping, sexting, suicide, anxiety, drugs and alcohol.

Fourteen years ago, Jean Schumm founded Operation Parent to provide parents with practical information and support. As a mom of five, she understands the challenges of parenting and wants to help others in the trenches.

When Winter Jam brings artists such as David Crowder, Andy Mineo and Passion to Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus Thursday, March 12, a portion of the show’s proceeds will benefit Operation Parent.

“It’s such an honor,” said Schumm, a Southeast member who attends the Crestwood Campus. “We are so grateful. Our goal is to reach every family with the tools to parent well. This helps.”

Operation Parent now reaches every state, Canada and countries across the globe via webinars and social media. A recent webinar on vaping drew 900 registrants.

In addition to webinars, Operation Parent is now producing online videos narrated by celebrities. Parents and kids can hear University of Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell talk about the dangers of vaping, country music star JD Shelburne talk about sexting, Karen Lawrence, actress Jennifer Lawrence’s mom, talk about anxiety and singer Demi Lovato’s mom talk about prescription drug abuse.

The Operation Parent handbook has been translated into Spanish, and Schumm hopes to make it into an e-book.

The mission statement at Operation Parent is to “love and support parents by providing real world information, connection and hope.”

Education keeps parents up to date in our ever-changing world.

“Decades ago, we tried to identify at-risk families,” Schumm said. “Now every family is at-risk. When you start pulling the numbers together, about one in five kids are planning for suicide, one in four sexually active teens are dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, one in two families are touched by addiction. We can’t continue to act like it’s not happening. None of these things discriminate. Our kids have access to everything and have to deal with everything.”

Operation Parent now tries to reach parents of fourth-graders and follows them through high school graduation.

“As parents, we must choose awareness and prevention,” she said. “We have to fully embrace the role we’ve been given to protect our children. We have to be in their stuff. We can learn to recognize early signs of anxiety and bullying before they turn into something even more harmful like cutting or suicide.”

The goal of the 21st Century Prevention project at Operation Parent is to raise awareness and confidence, initiate conversations with kids, set age-appropriate boundaries, become familiar with early warning signs, prevent addiction, bullying, suicide, violence and more.

One simple example that can become a game-changer for a family is taking away cellphones at night. That gives kids time to breathe and rest away from the pressures of social media.

Parents often ask Schumm if it’s possible to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids with all they’re exposed to now. Her answer? Absolutely.

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