Hopewell Valley Parenting Conference on tap for March 28

Parents in Hopewell Valley communities will be able to learn more effective parenting skills when the annual Hopewell Valley Parenting conference takes place on March 28.

The focus of the parenting conference at Hopewell Valley Central High School is on parental self-care and their children’s mental health, according to officials.

There will be a keynote presentation about giving children more control over their lives and the event includes several 90 minute workshops from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

“The idea was can we provide workshops that help parents navigate the parenting challenges they face, and how we can better support them and enhance their skills. There will be an undercurrent of self-care,” said Heidi Kahme, coordinator of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance. “If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your kid. We hope that each of our presenters in our workshops will provide self-care tips as well.”

The conference is in its third year and did not take place in 2019.

“Our first conference was in 2017 and the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance was looking to provide a resource and help to parents when it comes to raising children. We said there were a lot of issues out there that were a necessity and we wanted to be helpful,” Kahme said. “So, we decided to take all of these topics and sort of put them under one umbrella. That is when we came up with the parenting conference to begin with.”

The parenting conference will consist of 10 workshops. The topics include, Letting Teens Drive the Bus, Building Better Relationships Through Conscious Communication, Tastes of Conscious Leadership Tools for Parents and Back to Basics: Raising Balanced Children in An Unbalanced World.

“The workshops are each a small environment. They will take place in a classroom, and depending on the popularity of the workshop, be between 20-30 people,” Kahme said. “This is really a time where you can roll up your sleeves and get into the topic at hand. The workshops end up being more interactive and give people a chance to go a little deeper.”

Kahme added that the theme is having children have a responsibility in their future.

“I think what the keynote presentation is going to spotlight is that our kids have a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, we have to understand why?” Kahme said. “There can be a lot of over parenting, helicopter parenting and we want to make certain that our kids are doing what they are striving to achieve.”

Officials said the conference is being organized by parent volunteers in partnership with the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, Hopewell Valley Regional School District and the Hopewell Valley Education Foundation.

“The efforts promoted by our district cannot end when the school doors close.  Though school is a huge part of a student’s life, it is important to take it into consideration that students are in school for only seven hours a day, for 182 days of the year,” Superintendent of Schools Thomas Smith said. “The importance of talking and learning about mental health must permeate throughout our lives outside of the school day. This is a community issue, and we need their support to help our children and neighbors, and to support those who support them as well.”

He explaoned that the district continues to see an alarming number of students and young adults in the communities referred for mental health services, sent to crisis centers, or hospitalized for self-harming acts or ideations.

“Yet, from a societal perspective, we still struggle to hold conversations around mental health, since sharing your own trials is often seen as a weakness. Many people will gladly share the name of their personal trainer or talk about how the new trend of intermittent fasting has helped them,” Smith said. “Conversely, most of us would never share the name of our therapist or what medication or supplement we take to stabilize our mood. Sadly, the latter is still met with stigma, shame and embarrassment.”

Officials wanted to spotlight that registration for the conference will close on March 22 at midnight and that they will not be accepting any walk-ins on the day of the event.

“I hope people takeaway the support. If parents have the right tools in their toll box, I think things will be a lot easier,” Kahme said.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit www.hvalliance.org.