It’s a difficult time to be a parent.
Vaping, sexting, bullying, anxiety, drugs and suicide are daily realities for today’s teens.
Jean Schumm, a longtime member of Southeast Christian Church’s Crestwood Campus, understands the challenges of raising children. She started Operation Parent in 2005 after looking for a trustworthy, central source for practical information on day-to-day parenting issues for her own children.
“Decades ago, we tried to identify at-risk families,” Schumm said. “Now every family is at risk. When you start to put the numbers together, about one in five kids are planning suicide, one in four sexually active teens are dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, one in two families deal with addiction. The world our kids are growing up in is different than the one we grew up in.”
Kids inside and outside the church are at risk. The mission of Operation Parent is to support parents by providing information, connection and hope.
Operation Parent offers webinars that have seen a surge in registrations since COVID-19 shutdowns began. More than 3,200 from around the country registered for a webinar titled, “Helping Teens Cope with Anxiety during COVID.” Additional webinars on depression, anxiety and addiction in children drew parents from 47 states.
To meet the demand for practical parenting resources, Operation Parent materials are now available in Spanish and as e-books.
COVID-19 has shifted parents to online platforms and the use of digital resources.
“We’re not exactly sure why more parents throughout the country are signing up,” Schumm said. “When mom and dad were off at work and the kids were busy at school, parents may not have noticed issues. Now with COVID, kids and parents are spending more time together, kids miss their friends and life at school, so there’s an overall increase in anxiety and frustration for everyone in the family.”
Chapters in Operation Parent’s “The Parent Handbook” include the latest information on technology, alcohol, nicotine and drugs, mental health, dating, relationships and more.
“Our goal is to educate and equip parents. They are still the No. 1 influencers in kids’ lives,” Schumm said. “Parents may think friends and coaches have the most influence, but it’s not true.”
Operation Parent has focused on prevention but now provides a path to navigate the system of addiction.
“Parents need trustworthy advice on dealing with addiction,” Schumm said. “Often parents are shocked to find out they’re dealing with such a serious issue and need support and information along the journey.”
Schumm remains committed and passionate about helping families.
“We love one family at a time,” she said. “It’s a privilege to help in every way possible.”
The Operation Parent website (www.operationparent.org) offers free resources such as a video of U of L baseball coach Dan McDonnell talking about the dangers of vaping and other videos and recorded webinars on suicide, alcohol abuse, anxiety, sexual abuse, prescription drug abuse, cyber bulling, childhood anxiety, human trafficking, marijuana and opioids.
The goal is to walk alongside as many families as possible.