A Summary of December’s Coffee Hour

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hello parents/guardians,

We hope this communication finds you well and looking forward to the holidays and new year. Below, please find a summary of our most recent virtual meeting for Mercersburg parents/guardians (Coffee Hour on December 7). 

The purpose of this informal gathering was for parents to ask questions of one another, share ideas and experiences about what their children are facing, and offer what tips we might suggest for supporting normal teenage behavior and experiences. 

The overall sense from parents was that their children were showing great adaptability, that the Mercersburg Intensive programming was being well received, and that the planning and execution of the programming in the fall, both in class and virtually, had gone well. All agreed, creating the  “Mercersburg Academy Bubble” was a tremendous success, after some adjustments early on. Parents expressed hope that their children could have a winter term that would be executed as successfully. 

We shared some ideas of how to support the students while on winter break. We talked about the notion that it is important to be a presence for your child without having an agenda, while also finding the right balance in regard to giving them space. Reading the cues your child gives can be very helpful. It is developmentally appropriate for high-school-age children to want and need private time on their own. Quiet time spent watching a movie together or playing a family game is a great way to stay connected, without feeling the need to worry or talk about everything your child may be thinking. Just being present can give your child a sense of safety; knowing you are there.  

If your child does want to talk about specific things, sometimes the best approach is to listen and validate their feelings without trying to jump into problem-solving mode or to ask the many questions we often have as parents. We are all facing challenges and coping with stress we have not faced before. It is also developmentally appropriate for adolescents to try to independently navigate their experiences and feelings. This skill will help them manage other difficulties they may face in the future. Of course, none of this is to say parents should not be involved in discussions with their child about difficulties. It is a delicate balance. The key to aiding resilience in others is to offer empathy.

We hope this summary gives you some idea of how we hope to continue to be supportive of our parent/guardian community. The Counseling Department plans to hold another Coffee Hour again, and we hope you will join us. We are a big community, and we will continue to try to find the best time for those who want to attend. 

Warm regards and happy holidays to all!

Susan Rahauser, MS, NCC, LCP
Director of Counseling Services    

Jennifer L. Sipes, MSW, LCSW
School Counselor