Communities that Care Speaker Series in Park City to discuss shame and resiliency
September 7, 2018
Brad Reedy knows how hard it is for people, especially parents, to admit when they have made a mistake. But, he said, it is key if a child is going to learn how to accept their own faults and become resilient.
Reedy, a therapist, author and co-founder of the wilderness therapy organization Evoke Therapy Programs, is coming to Park City to discuss the myths behind shame and perfection during the Communities that Care Speaker Series. The event is titled "Raising Resilient Children Amidst Today's Societal Challenges." It is scheduled to take place on Sept. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Blair Education Center in the Park City Hospital and is free and open to the public.
Reedy said one of the things he plans to speak about is how parents need to shift from making their children "the project" to working on themselves. Parents who are pretending to be perfect rather than being emotionally vulnerable can do more harm than good, he said.
"Being imperfect is OK, having flaws is OK," he said. "We all dent our children, you just don't get out of that. The fantasy that you can be the perfect parent sets everybody else in the family for failure."
He also plans to speak about the importance of parents "seeing and hearing" their children. That means when a child comes to a parent saying they have thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves, the parent can calmly say, "Tell me more about that," rather than being shocked and worrying the child more.
Mary Christa Smith, youth programs coordinator for Communities that Care, said the program and the speaker series emerged out of an "awakening" that the Park City community went through two years ago following the death of two 13-year-old boys due to drug overdoses. She said the program's goal is to improve the well-being of youth in Park City.
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The speaker series is focusing on parents because they have a big impact on their children's lives, Smith said. She said a survey given to Park City youth showed that parental attitudes were the third-biggest factor in determining a child's mental well-being. When parents have high expectations for their children, it can cause anxiety and fear of mistakes in their children.
She hopes the event can empower parents so they can help their children be whole and healthy, as well as continue to build a community that is not afraid to talk about mental health. Reedy plans to teach parents about sources of support for themselves, such as books, therapists and support groups so they can manage their own anxiety and fear of not being perfect.
His main goal for the event is for parents to not feel alone, and to have hope for themselves and their children. He wants parents to let go of their needs of being right and good.
"Needing to be a good parent gets in the way of being open, learning, making mistakes and letting your child be angry," he said. "My work is about breaking down the barriers that get in the way, giving parents new ears and eyes to be able to see and hear their children, and that capacity changes the child's life."
The event is sponsored by the Mental Wellness Alliance, Summit County and Intermountain Healthcare. Reedy and Smith said that, while parents are the targeted audience for the event, children are also invited to attend.