Parents of teens are being urged to get on the same page

Editor's note: The location of one of the discussions was incorrect in the Jan. 2 issue of The Beachcomber. The correct information is listed below.

What if all Vashon parents read the same book — and it was filled with great advice about how to deal with their teenagers and ’tweens?

That’s the challenge issued by the Vashon Library and Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS), where staffers are promoting “Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens,” a 2009 book that has won acclaim for its common-sense approach to making sure families survive and even thrive during the turbulent teen years.

The book is co-authored by Laura S. Kastner, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, and Jennifer Wyatt. Both authors are parents themselves and have doctoral degrees in their fields.

Kastner, a sought-after speaker who frequently lectures on the subject of adolescence and family behavior, will come to Vashon to discuss the book with islanders at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at McMurray Middle School.

Another discussion of the book — without Kastner — will take place at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Vashon Library.

Yvonne-Monique Zick, a parent educator at VYFS who is spearheading the effort to get island parents to read the book and then come out to discuss it, said she has been thrilled by the community’s response to the idea.

“We’ve had some good preliminary information that Vashon Bookshop has sold lots and lots of these books, and it has been checked out consistently at the library. They have had to purchase more copies,” she said. “It’s so cool that parents on the island are reading the same book.”

Zick also had high praise for Kastner, calling her a superstar in her field who had very generously agreed to waive her usual fees to come to Vashon to discuss her book with local parents.

“Getting to Calm” includes explanations of new discoveries in brain science that shed light on why teens act the way they do, as well as a series of scripts that bring family dramas vividly to life. The book has 14 chapters with titles that are sure to resonate with many parents, such as “When You’re Fighting About Grades,” “When Your Teen Wants to be Wired All the Time” and “When Everyone is Completely Stressed Out.” As might be expected, all kinds of hot-button issues are addressed in the book, from sex to substance abuse to lying.

But the common theme running through the book is that parents need to develop and practice techniques that will allow them to respond in a rational, calm and compassionate way to the turmoil the teen years can bring.

“Despite the occasional lapse, if we can operate from a place of calm most of the time, we are demonstrating to our teens the emotional skills they will need to be successful in their own lives,” Kastner and Wyatt write.


Author Laura Kastner’s talk will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at McMurray Middle School. Another discussion of the book — without Kastner — will take place at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at McMurray.


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