Partnering with schools, families to discuss difficult topics

Happy summer! I hope all of you can take some time to unwind and relax this summer. Some days it still feels like we are swimming upstream, trying to get back to normal.

While trying to reach that synchronization, some of us may have developed unhealthy habits or coping mechanisms. Our children may be in this situation too. Helping them navigate choices that lead to a healthy future is imperative.

Over the past few weeks, Sheridan County Prevention, in collaboration with our school districts, mailed out Operation Parent handbooks, to every family, in all three school districts. This easy-to-read handbook is there to help you talk to your children about difficult topics. The goal is for the handbooks to be used to spark conversations in Sheridan County families. I know it is important to recognize that parents are their children’s first teachers, and we cannot underestimate the influence our family of origin has on our development.

Over the past few years, our kids have been exposed to more and more unhealthy habits and behaviors. Hopefully, this tool will be useful in rewiring those unhealthy patterns in our life and our children's lives. More information about operation parent handbooks can be found at operation parent.org.

Two versions of the handbook went out. For those families with a student in elementary school, they received an elementary version. For those families with a student in middle school or high school, they received that version. If your family has children in both areas, you should have received both handbooks.

The handbooks have age-appropriate content ranging from cell phone safety, bullying, boundaries, use of social media, teen anxiety, underage drinking, sexting and vaping. If some of the content makes you uncomfortable, please take a minute and ask yourself why.

Although we like to think our children are not exposed to myriad issues and personal dilemmas, the reality is, even in Sheridan County, our children encounter more then we may like to believe. This handbook is meant to be a resource for you that will help you guide your children because parenting is hard work — maybe the hardest work you will ever do! We are here to support you.

If for some reason you did not receive a handbook and would like one, please email me at aperkins@sheridancountywy.gov. If you know of individuals or organizations who may benefit from a handbook, please let me know.

I hope you have a wonderful summer and take some time for your family to regroup and rest.