Family Summit helps parents of technology obsessed teens

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –¬†Today’s teens are part of one of the first generations to be surrounded by technology their whole lives. Now, their parents are left to figure out how to get through to kids in this age. Different Fort Wayne organizations got together and planned the Family Summit to help those parents and others who work with teens.

The Family Summit is more than a year in the making. Local organizations The Summit, Crosswinds and Lifeline got together last November to brainstorm what this community needs most.

“We collaborated with non profits and for profits and asked what’s going on in our community, what are topics we need to discuss,” Crosswinds/Lifeline VP of Marketing Jacquie Downey said. “Then let’s narrow it down and say we’re going to focus on families with teens.”

Nearly 20 speakers were at the summit lecturing on things like cyber security, parenting tips and mental health. The keynote speaker parenting expert and author Mark Gregston said parents ask him a lot about today’s teens. The main thing they’re worried about is technology.

“I think most parents are reeling with this idea of how do I deal with all this information that’s bombarding my kids and counter that and offer them wisdom,” Gregston said.

Gregston told the crowd the “because I said so” parenting method does not work with today’s teens. That resonated with foster parent Dorothy Nickleson.

“We’re not listening, we’re not hearing them,” she said. “They always share what’s going on. We might not like it so we put a wall up, and we think they have a wall up, but in reality it’s us.”

“There’s old, antiquated ways of dealing with kids that are pushing our kids away, it’s not drawing them to us,” Gregston said.

Gregston told the group his number one piece of parenting advice.

“Tell their kids there’s nothing you can do to make me love you more and there’s nothing you can do to make me love you less,” Gregston said. “It’s an important message for kids to hear.”

Nearly 250 people came out to the Family Summit. This was the first year for it, and there are plans to bring it back next year.