Diverse parenting resources offered at Royal Oak PTA event

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published November 5, 2014

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ROYAL OAK — As a mother of four, Jodi Tillander knows the importance of a strong parenting network.

Her insight and experience raising children inspired her to bring quality resources to all parents in the greater Royal Oak area.

With help from a friend and experience visiting a heavily attended parenting fair in Walled Lake, Tillander created the inaugural ParentU event last year.

“It’s a day for parents to kind of stop and take a minute for them and really hear  something that there is no handbook for,” Tillander said.

All parents are invited to the free 2014 ParentU event taking place from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 8 at Royal Oak Middle School, 709 N. Washington Ave.

When she organized the event, Tillander said it was important that everyone in attendance feels educated, heard and helped.

The Royal Oak PTA Council fair will feature 50-minute workshops, access to relevant parenting resources, and keynote speaker Bernie Les presenting “Disciplined Parenting & Confident Children.”

Tillander said the event will feature resources for parents, families and caregivers. Workshops during the event include Unfriendly Friends, Single Parenting, the Importance of Dads, Raising Readers and Teen Brain.

“Teen Brain is for parents with teenagers, because you never really know what is going on in that brain of theirs,” Tillander said.

The event will feature a teen panel, which was well-received last year. The panel features students candidly speaking about social media. Parents in attendance will have the opportunity to ask the panel anything to receive an honest answer. Two counselors from the district also sit on the panel.

“This event came out of our desire to have an event for parents to really connect with resources that they might not be able to normally,” Tillander said.

Survey responses from 2013 indicated that attendees were overall happy with the fair.

Melissa Knisely attended ParentU last year not really knowing what to expect.

“There’s definitely something for everyone at ParentU,” Knisely said. “Even if you walk away with only one or two things, those could be the things that could impact your family for the next few years.

“How to handle conflicts, homework stress, building good character — there’s tons of ideas.”

Knisely said she will attend again this year and hopes to walk away with more information she can implement into her daily routine.

ParentU is sponsored by the Royal Oak Foundation for Public Education and Royal Oak Schools.

The workshops run on a set schedule, and Les will speak at 9:30 a.m. Registration for the keynote speaker and individual workshops is available by visiting www.parenturo.com. In-person registration the day of the event will be available and begin at 8:30 a.m. Parents may sign up for as few or as many workshops as they would like.

Attendees can visit vendors and community resources that will have stations set up throughout the day.

Tillander said about 100 people attended last year, and the event is on track for about the same amount of attendees this year. She hopes for more.

“It is something that I feel very strongly about, and I was glad that it all worked out for us to provide those kind of resources to parents that otherwise wouldn’t have them,” she said. “I really appreciated the foundation’s support, because it made it available to everyone.”

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