Keeping teens safe and parents sane

Liz Jorgensen, certified alcohol and drug counselor, clinical consultant and director of Ridgefield-based Insight Counseling, will lead the third and final installment of the Wilton Youth Council’s Parent Connection Information Series at Wilton Library on Tuesday, March 7.
During her Delay Your Gray: How to Keep Your Teenager Safe and Yourself Sane talk, from 10 to 11:30, Jorgensen will discuss “normal” adolescent behavior, setting effective limits, dealing with alcohol and drugs, improving partnerships, and creating team-parenting strategies.
Jorgensen said Delay Your Gray will cover “all the hot topics of raising healthy and secure teens in today’s culture.”
“I cover safety issues, media use, alcohol and drug use prevention, peer issues, how to help motivate teens, how to help your teen become more independent, and more,” she said.
Parents will learn about children’s developing brains, said Jorgensen, and what is “normal teen insanity” versus behaviors and symptoms that may indicate a problem to be addressed.”
“I teach parents about how the outside teen culture impacts home life and can create parenting challenges,” she said, “and how to network successfully with other parents to create a safer community for teens to socialize within.”
Jorgensen said the most important part of her teaching to parents is to “stay firm and strong in setting loving limits and to develop a bottomless sense of humor in dealing with teen antics.”
“Parents need to spend some time deciding exactly what their rules and expectations are; they need to team up with their partners, spouse, ex-spouse and communicate the boundaries and expectations clearly, including the consequences that a teen will experience when they push the boundaries,” she said.
“It’s a lot of work up front for caregivers, but the results are priceless.”
There are several factors that make it hard for parents to stay sane while trying to keep their children safe, said Jorgensen.
“Parents can be too easily swayed by their teens’ dramatic emotional responses at times,” she said.
Many parents who know they should stay firm, she said, “still give in to ‘teenage temper tantrums.’”
“It’s not easy to stay firm, [but] giving in — even occasionally to requests to do unsafe or dishonest things — teaches the emotional teen brain to continue insane begging, demanding, and so on.”
It can also be “very difficult” for parents, said Jorgensen, “if they themselves have sane rules and expectations, and their child’s peer groups have very lax rules — or other parents host drinking parties or allow unsupervised events.”
Jorgensen said she will cover “all these tricky issues” during Delay Your Gray, which she presented in Wilton several years ago.
Delay Your Gray
Jorgensen created Delay Your Gray 15 years ago, when her eldest daughter was about 16.
“I [had] been a therapist for many years, but I realized how emotionally difficult it was for me to have my daughter go through the very normal separation antics that all teens practice,” she said.
“The ‘get out of my life’ type of behavior really shook me at times — even though, as a professional, I knew it was coming and it was normal.”
After working “very hard” to develop her own set of resiliency skills, Jorgensen said, she began to “present and write about the process of deeply loving our teens while guiding them through adolescence,” and Delay Your Gray was born.
Jorgensen, a Redding resident, said she is familiar with the Wilton community.
Jorgensen said she has worked with and done presentations on a variety of topics for the Wilton Youth Council, Wilton schools and Wilton Library over the years, and looks forward to helping more Wilton parents.
“The parents in Wilton are very caring and involved, and it is always a delight to work with them,” she said.
Not only will parents “have fun, laugh and learn that they are not alone in dealing with ridiculous situations at home,” said Jorgensen, but they will also leave with “some essential how-to messages and community support and resources.”
A Q&A will follow Jorgensen’s talk, which will take place in the library’s Rimer Room. There is no charge, but registration is strongly encouraged.
To register, visit or call 203-762-6334.