Dear parents and guardians,
I serve as regional staff supporting our programming for teenagers. We focus particularly on high schoolers (ages 14-18) including leader training, social justice events, and community events commonly called “cons”. These are weekend long experiences of living in covenantal community including chances to form deep relationships, chances for spiritual exploration, and chances to explore UU values. The living in covenant is particularly important as the youth, with adult support, need to navigate those parts of being a community which can be challenging from hurt feelings to deep disagreements. These events are led with a philosophy of youth-adult partnership. The youth leaders are really central to the planning and running of the event which is often life-changing leadership.
There are adults who love these events. They love them because they love the youth. Because they love watching the youth learn and grow. Because youth are creative, inventive, and fun. If your teenager is interested in youth cons, I highly encourage you to attend one with your teenager. Your teenager may grumble about this, but don’t let them leave you out of the fun. Here’s why:
(1) You’ll actually know what’s going on and be able to understand their stories after other events.
(2) This kind of event can be really good for a parent – teen relationship. Here you won’t be in “parent” mode. Unless they break a major rule and the leaders call you to take them home, they and you are part of the same community living under the same covenant. This is excellent practice for how your relationship will continue to shift as they get older, and ultimately are responsible for themselves all the time.
(3) You won’t be in charge. There are things we need adults to help supervise, but you’re not in charge. If lunch is running late (because youth are still learning how to run a tight schedule), you get to just sip your coffee and watch. How often do you get to not be in charge?
(4) You can meet other folks parenting UU teens. This is a challenging life stage and forming relationships with other parents can be very helpful!
Congregational Life Staff for the Central East Region
We are hosting a con here at Albany UU Dec 1-3 and it will be perfect for us because only one of our youth has ever been to a con and this upcoming con is to help youth and adults understand what cons are all about. It will be organized by the Upstate NY Youth/Adult Committee and they promise a fun, exciting, and inclusive winter holiday themed con! Register here. And let me know if you have any questions.