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Weston Youth Services explores gender roles and responsibilities

Michelle Albright, director of Weston Youth Services, focuses on school and community to help kids and families. —Katelyn Peterson photo

Michelle Albright

This month for its Tackling the Tough Stuff series, Weston Youth Services will explore how attitudes about gender influence parenting styles, standards, and practices; beliefs about beauty, strength, and success; media representations of men and women; and common (and sometimes conflicting) maternal mind-sets and paternal perspectives.

“As we enter the season of Mother’s and Father’s Day, images of gender roles and responsibilities are everywhere,” said Michelle Albright, director of Weston Youth Services. “Cards, school concerts, and commercials portray a range of models and messages about masculinity and femininity. Our views of how men and women are ‘supposed’ to look, speak, act, and feel are shaped by parents, peers, society, and even the shows we watch. And children today watch a lot! Yet what’s depicted as the ideal may often seem a bit surreal,” she said.

Youth Services has planned several workshops for parents to explore some of these issues. “We hope these conversations will give parents tips and tools to nurture the next generation of strong and secure men and women,” Dr. Albright said.

On Tuesday, May 21, Richard Sussman LCSW will lead a discussion on “Fathering for Fathers (and Mothers, Too!)” at the Weston Field Club from 7 to 8:30 p.m. A light dinner will be provided.

Mr. Sussman is a licensed transpersonal psychotherapist and clinical social worker specializing in the integration of Western psychology and Eastern spiritual traditions.

On Thursday, May 30, guest speakers Claudia Cardenas Psy.D. and Emily Leventhal will talk about dating drama, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the library (sandwiches will be provided).

Tweens and teens are often gripped by romantic notions and raging hormones, and sometimes literally by dating abuse and violence. Learn how to spot the signs and symptoms, and how to help children form healthy relationships.

Dr. Cardenas is the director of Counseling and PeaceWorks for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center. Ms. Leventhal is the violence prevention educator for PeaceWorks and a former middle and high school English teacher.

The conversation continues in June with an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.

On Thursday, June 6, Michael Marotto, vice principal of Weston High School and an adjunct professor in English and education at the University of Connecticut, will lead a discussion of the book from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Weston Public Library Community Room.

To RSVP to any of the upcoming sessions, email malbright@westonct.gov or call 203-222-2585. To learn more about the series, visit westonyouthservices.org.

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