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A child’s transition from elementary to middle school, when she is becoming more independent and taking on more responsibility, can be tricky — for her parents.

That’s the period when a child’s peer group tends to change and both academic and social pressures increase, said Greg Oerther, a certified social worker.

“It’s a very vulnerable time and parents have a lot of anxiety around that and so, a lot of times, they have a lot of questions,” Oerther said.

He is leading a March 29 seminar at Alex Kennedy Elementary School, 4515 Taylorsville Road for parents who want to help their preteens steer clear of negative and destructive behavior.

The free seminar, which is part of a parenting series by Our Lady of Peace, will teach parents how to best handle the transition.

The event will be an opportunity to get some answers and hear from other parents, Oerther said. Participants also can pick up ideas and prevention tips and learn about warning signs and triggers.

Greg Oerther

“Let’s talk together. Let’s engage,” he said.

Oerther will be addressing such topics as, “How do I know when my child’s ready for what responsibilities, and how do we keep open lines of communication with our child so that peer influences stay positive and don’t take a negative path?”

Also, “when’s the appropriate age to give your child a cellphone and how do we handle talking to our kids about substance abuse?” he said.

Use of illicit drugs may begin before a child even enters high school, he said.

Our Lady of Peace does “a lot of work with adolescents who have substance-abuse issues,” he said. Also, “I handle a lot of our relationships with the court system, and a lot of these kids, if you talk to them, will say the first time they were offered illicit drugs or alcohol (was at) 10, 11, 12 years of age.”

Oerther’s 6-7 p.m. seminar is part of the 2018 Peace for Parents series by the hospital, which is part of KentuckyOne Health.

The idea with the series is “let’s give parents some support, so it doesn’t get to that point of ultimate crisis, where you’re knocking on our door,” he said.

“If you put the time and the energy in when they’re young and you create those relationships that are healthy and have strong boundaries and are nurturing, they pay it forward,” he said.

Preteens can encounter many stressful situations – from bullying to developmental challenges related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

When children are not ready to handle the stress and anxiety, they may resort to unhealthy coping skills, so it’s important to recognize when they’re struggling and to talk to them about that, Oerther said.

Chat with them daily, he added, not just when they get into trouble at school. By asking them to talk about their peers, friends and relationships, “you’ll then be able to pick up where they’re going and if there are any changes,” he said.

In addition to parents, the seminar is open to other interested persons, such as grandparents and counselors.

“The more the merrier,” Oerther said. “We want to have a rich dialogue.”

Children can attend, but consider whether their presence would impact your ability to say something; no child care is provided, he said.

Other events in the series include an ADHD seminar at 5 p.m. April 25 at Bridges of Hope Neighborhood Place, 1411 Algonquin Parkway.


Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.


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