Cocoon House classes offer help to parents of teenagers

Sno-Isle Libraries and Cocoon House are working together to offer 10 classes to help parents and other adults dealing with teenagers.

Cocoon House offers 10 classes designed to help parents get their children through difficult teenage years.

“Teens today are different teens from 10 or 20 years ago,” said Faith Simonelli, prevention program manager for Cocoon House in Everett. She has 20 years of experience working with homeless teens in Snohomish County and helped guide her two now-adult children through the usual difficulties of adolescence.

The Cocoon House-led classes are designed to give parents and caregivers tools they can use to help their teen navigate life’s complicated choices. Class topics include depression, substance abuse, personal identity, communication, personal loss, bullying, sexual activity, brain development, setting technological boundaries and maintaining self as a parent.

“I know as a parent, parenting doesn’t come with a book,” Simonelli said. “Parenting requires help.”

Simonelli is working with Jen Sullivan, the library district’s lead librarian for student success, to make the classes available at community libraries across the library district. “We’re providing a space and a forum for parents to help their teen and tween,” Sullivan said.

Cocoon House and Sno-Isle Libraries have worked together before, Sullivan said. One result is that every Sno-Isle Libraries community library is a Cocoon House-designated safe space.

Sno-Isle Libraries offered Cocoon House parenting classes in 2018 and Cocoon House saw its benchmarks improve with the library district’s participation, Sullivan said.

Simonelli said she “was raised going to the library,” and knows the value libraries offer their communities and appreciates the local knowledge of each community’s librarian.

“I’m not going to say I know each community’s needs,” Simonelli said.

So far, 11 community libraries have scheduled Parenting Teen classes. Some are offering one class, with Mariner Library scheduling six.

The classes are also being offered in Spanish. Mariner and Monroe Libraries have each scheduled three classes while the Lynnwood Library has one scheduled in Spanish.

Sullivan expects more libraries to schedule Parenting Teen classes with updates on the Sno-Isle Libraries Classes & Events Calendar.

The first classes start Sept. 12. The Granite Falls Library will host “What’s Going on in My Teen’s Brain?” at 6 p.m. The Lynnwood Library is offering the Spanish version of “Understanding and Preventing Substance Abuse in Teens” at 7 p.m.

“Communication and collaboration is the basis of family,” Simonelli said. “If they (parents and caregivers) use only 1 percent of 100 percent of what we offer, they’re better off than when they started.”

Parenting Teen Classes

“Who Am I? Your Teen’s Quest for Identity” – Parents learn to decode the often bewildering and inconsistent behavior of their own teen, understanding what “normal teen behavior” is and is not.

“Understanding and Preventing Substance Abuse in Teens” – Conventional wisdom says teens use substances for pleasure, but research shows those who become substance abusers are most often battling feelings of emptiness and helplessness.

“What’s Going on in My Teen’s Brain?” – Do you feel like your teen is ignoring you, doing exactly what you have asked him or her not to do, unconcerned for his or her future or the consequences of his or her actions? Your teen isn’t necessarily doing any of this on purpose.

“Successful Communication with Your Teen” – Communication happens all the time and comes in many forms. Successful and effective communication is key to building a trusting and respectful relationship.

“Talking to Teens About Sex” – Despite today’s teen’s apparent “instant access” to the mechanics of sex, the vast majority of youth say they want to talk about the uncool side of sex with the people who love them the most, their parents. Learn why a parents’ two cents is vital to their child’s developing sexuality.

“Parental Involvement: Loss and the Effects on My Teen” – When a loss exceeds a child’s ability to cope, a child can feel powerless. Learn how losing a parent, whether through death, divorce or physical or emotional distance, impacts a teen’s developing sense of self.

“Have a Self AND Raise a Teen” – Sometimes parenting can feel like an either/or proposition: “It’s either the kid’s life or mine.” But kids learn more from what parents do than what they say. If they see parents who actively maintain their own hopes and dreams, odds are good the child will do the same.

“Parents’ Guide to Teen Depression – Learn to tell whether your teen’s depression is an emotion or a possible clinical diagnosis. Explore the behavioral signs in teens suffering from depression, and look at myths and facts of depression and different treatment options.

“Technology Boundaries with Your Teen” – Are you losing to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or video games? Do you wonder what they could possibly be sharing online? Get a greater understanding of available technology, how to welcome and limit technology, and stay connected with your teen.

“Bullying” – Bullying exists everywhere, and teens and parents can both be victims. It creates an environment of fear, avoidance and resistance. Learn techniques to use when you see bullying, how to identify bullying and what to do if you are being bullied.