Series teaches parents how to raise ‘healthy, happy teens’

Wilton Library will kick off a three-part parenting series beginning next week called Parent Information Series: Everything You Want to Know About Your Adolescents.

Parents are invited to the informal conversations in the library’s Rimer Room, where professionals will provide parenting advice about raising healthy, happy teens and engage in Q&As.

Tracey Masella, adolescent social worker at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, will lead the first conversation — Setting Limits with Your Tween and Teen — on Nov. 18., from 10 to 11:30.

“I begin all of my talks with an overview -— in a way that is understandable — of how the brain works, what are the elements of an emotional experience,” said Masella. “I think this is information that is both interesting and relevant.”

In her presentation, Masella will discuss how parents can set effective limits with their teens and tweens in order to increase positive behavior and decrease negative behavior.

Masella will also cover strategies to strengthen relationships and foster healthy communication between parents and their children, as well as how to recognize the warning signs of when typical adolescent behavior crosses the line and treatment may be warranted.

“We will talk about setting realistic expectations for your teen and helping your teen set realistic expectations for him or herself, developing a sustainable family contract with rules and consequences, ways to more effectively talk to your teen, and the difference between ‘normal’ and problematic adolescent behavior,” said Masella.

In her practice, Masella said, the rule of thumb is to “focus limits on safety concerns.”

“It is the role of the teen to individuate from their parents, and teens do this by trying out new ways of doing things,” she said. “As long as a teen is safe, we encourage parents to give teens some room to explore.”

Masella said limit-setting by parents has changed over the years, especially with social media, which has impacted the lives of both teens and parents by introducing “many more safety concerns” and “causing families an inordinate amount of conflict.”

“I also think that the changing sociology of our neighborhoods and our families impacts setting limits, as there is not the same circle of support around teens that there has been in the past,” said Masella.

A common mistake parents make when setting limits for their teens, Masella said, is being inconsistent.

“Parents will set a limit and then waffle on maintaining the limit,” she said. “Once a no becomes a yes, teens know there is the opportunity to negotiate.”

Masella said the most effective way to set limits for teens is to discuss family rules and consequences with them. This way, she said, “the rules and consequences are known by all family members, the rules are realistic and, perhaps most importantly, the consequences are able to be enforced in a timely and consistent way.”

The Parent Information Series will be the first time Masella has led a talk at Wilton Library and she said she is “pleased to have the opportunity to meet members of the Wilton community and to hear about how clinicians and Silver Hill Hospital can help.”

“I always enjoy hearing the questions that parents bring to these talks, and having a lively dialogue about the things that matter most to the parents who have taken time out of their very busy days to come to my talk,” said Masella.

The other two programs in the Parent Information Series will take place at the following times:

  • Jan. 13, 7-8:30 p.m. — Stress and Success with Michelle Albright Ph.D., director of Weston Youth Services.

  • March 30, 10-11:30 a.m. — Depression and Anxiety in Youth: What Does It Look Like and When Is It a Problem? with Dr. Aaron Krasner, adolescent service chief at Silver Hill Hospital.

“The Parent Connection committee reviewed a number of presentation topics and chose three that we thought would resonate with parents in Wilton,” said Genevieve Eason, coordinator of Wilton Youth Council's Parent Connection, who said she is looking forward to each of the presentations.

“The topics are interesting to me, and I also enjoy hearing how different experts approach the work they do,” she said.

“Each of these presenters has a passion for the topic they are discussing. It's always fascinating to hear what they feel are the most important lessons for parents to take away.”

The series is sponsored by Silver Hill Hospital, Weston Youth Services, the Wilton Library, and the Wilton Youth Council.

“It's exciting to have so many organizations working together on this,” said Eason.

Eason said this type of series began in 2011 with the initiation of the Parenting Book Series with Dr. Susan Bauerfeld — also co-sponsored by the Wilton Youth Council and Wilton Library — and it has “evolved to be the Parent Information Series, highlighting guest speakers.”

“Silver Hill Hospital recently worked on a similar speaker series in Darien that was very well received,” said Eason.

“When we learned about that program, we asked them if they would be willing to try it with us, and they were enthusiastic about it.”

Eason said the Parenting Book Series was usually attended by about 25 people and a similar crowd is expected for the Parent Information Series.

“One of the challenges of parenting is that we have to learn on the job — and parenting is one of the most important roles or jobs of one's life. Learning effective parenting skills — what works, what doesn't — is a most valuable contribution to not only our children but to ourselves, and to our communities,” said Eason.

“The information covered in this series is solid and interesting, and you'll meet others who want to listen, share and learn about common parenting struggles.”

There is no charge for the Parent Information Series, but registration is strongly encouraged.

For more information or to register, visit or call 203-762-3950, ext. 213.