Debra Siegel is a mother of two: her son, Zack, is a sophomore in high school, and her daughter, Zoe, is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Both of her children attended elementary and middle school at The Epstein School, and then Riverwood International Charter School. Zoe became involved with JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship while she was in high school, and Zack also participates in JumpSpark programs. Before long, Debra learned that JumpSpark isn’t just for teens—it’s for parents, too.
JumpSpark is the Atlanta Jewish teen initiative at Federation and serves as a hub for teen engagement. But JumpSpark also offers programming for parents, families, and guardians of teenagers. Next week, JumpSpark is hosting two events for parents in Atlanta’s Jewish community: an in-person event called “Let’s Talk About Being a Parent of a Jewish College/Gap Year Student,” and an online workshop for parents of pre-teen and teen boys called “Helping Boys Thrive.”
Last spring, Debra participated in a JumpSpark program called “Project Launch” which helped parents of high school seniors with the transition from high school to college or a gap year.
Debra found it hugely helpful to connect with other parents who were approaching the same milestone. Participants were given support and helpful tips as they navigated this emotional time. “There are so many pieces that go into it—budgeting, parent/student communication, social and emotional wellness, learning about antisemitism, and how our children can be involved in Jewish campus life, even if not necessarily in a religious way.”
Now, Debra is on the Host Committee for an in-person event for parents called “Let’s Talk About Being a Parent of a Jewish College/Gap Year Student” on December 1, 2022, at 6:30 pm at Temple Sinai. This event is for parents and guardians of current college and gap year students. Debra says she’s excited to come together with her peers to “share what we’ve learned through this experience of sending our kids to college—the ups and downs, and how we can best support our children.”
In a year or so, Debra will be starting the post-high school planning process with Zack. JumpSpark’s goal is to help families through the transitions they go through during their teen years, and Debra is excited to access those programs for her son.
For many families with boys, the teenage years can be difficult. Boys often have a hard time communicating their feelings or opening up to parents about their struggles. JumpSpark is offering the program “Helping Boys Thrive” on Wednesday, November 30, at 12 pm.
This free, online workshop will be presented in collaboration with the Jewish Education Collaborative and will feature speakers from Moving Traditions. Parents and guardians of middle and early high school boys will have the opportunity to build community with other parents and get access to valuable resources from experts. Participants will leave the program with practical tools they can use with their families.
Parenting a teenager can sometimes feel isolating, and JumpSpark wants parents to know they are not alone as they navigate challenging waters. These two events are opportunities for families to build community and access valuable resources. As Debra says, such programs are important because, “We are reminded that we are all going through this together.”