First ever parent forum explores how student stress and anxiety can harm


Judy Stubblefield

Consumed by eerie, fitting lighting, Dr. Les Cole converses with his audience, trying his best to make light of the quite somber situation. “Teenagers are terrorists. They will blow themselves up you show you they have all the power,” Dr. Cole said jokingly.

Judy Stubblefield, Photo Editor

Parents quietly entered the Media Center, one by one.  They all shared looks of harbored concern, similar to ones their children usually have.

The North Cobb counseling department invited parents to attend a collaboration with Northside Psychological Services, as Dr. Les Cole reached out to the department to establish the school’s first ever parent forum, held Tuesday January 27. The topic: how to help your child deal with stress and anxiety.

Dr. Cole opened the forum from a personal account:

“As a father of six and a grandfather of four, I’ve been parenting for over 50 years. One thing I know, coming here tonight, is that the environment today is very different—more different than it has ever been. It’s different as a professional, and it’s most certainly different as a parent,” he said, consoling and thanking parents for their attendance.

Dr. Cole spoke on the science and adaptational roots of stress and anxiety. People asked many questions, ranging from video game addiction to depression,  and the doctor answered accordingly. The meeting served its purpose set by its coordinator.

“The main [purpose is] to normalize the difficulties and challenges we face as students, parents, and families. My goal would be that our programs equip the student and parents to better navigate those challenges they face,” Dr. Cole said. “We are in this thing together…”

Parents take notes as the doctor speaks about how parts of the brain are involved with anxiety and depression.
Judy Stubblefield
Parents take notes as the doctor speaks about how parts of the brain are involved with anxiety and depression.

The idea for the forums emerged from a need for parents to have access to professional, psychological guidance. After speaking with attendees, it revealed that many parents struggle with mentoring their students through stress and anxiety. An array of stress sources compelled different parents with different backgrounds to attend the meeting.

“This program offers parents an opportunity to get additional information about what their teenager is experiencing on a daily basis and ask questions about how to address issues that arise through that process. They have access to a psychologist outside of the school setting and get his insight into what’s “normal” and what needs to perhaps be handled differently for a different outcome,” counselor Brie Perrozzi said.

The counseling department plans to host more parent forums, though the topics remain undetermined. Participating parents deemed the forum a success and look forward to future ones.

“I enjoyed the forum. We’re all coming for different reasons but we can all take away something away from it. In my case, my son will will be a new student at the school. I want to see how I could make the transition easier. These forums will help us better communicate with our children and help us be better parents,” parent Debra Webster said.