Parenting is hard enough under the best of circumstances. It’s even harder for needier parents. That’s where Elizabeth Cohen’s organization, Families First, comes in. I asked Liz about her group’s work, their upcoming events, and her best parenting advice.

I think Families First might be a new organization for a lot of our readers, so can you tell me a little more about what you do?

Four Questions with Elizabeth Cohen, Executive Director of Families First
Elizabeth and her daughter

Families First believes that secure and nurturing parent-child relationships are the foundation of every child’s well-being and future success. We focus on serving parents in need—specifically those parents who lack access to adequate parenting resources. While some things change, some things remain constant. Relationships are the basis of the family and healthy development, so our work continues to center on guiding parents to promote healthy relationships with their children and strengthen their families. Let me be clear: There is no one way to parent. We hope to help parents make the best choices.

And you have an event coming up on April 15?

We have started to introduce affluent communities to our organization. The event on April 15 is in Brookline and will feature Dr. Susan Linn, who will discuss screens, kids and the media. The idea is to help gain techniques to battle the constant commercialism and excessive screen time, and what to do about it.

Do you have any tips for cutting down on screen time?

I think we’re all guilty about media time. These days technology makes us hyper-connected. And kids pick up on it—when you’re checking your phone when you’re with them. Kids are feeling lonely. Try making a no-media fly zone—don’t look at your phone in the car. Dinner time is sacred space, so put your phones away. I have very limited time as a single mom, but it’s about making a community together. The car is the last place for conversation, and you can use it as a place to develop media literacy. For example, the movie “Frozen” is ubiquitous. I can say to my daughter: “Let’s look at Elsa’s eyes. Is it possible that her eyes can be bigger than her wrist? Is that really possible?” It’s a great way to start a conversation about body image.

What are some of your favorite, and inexpensive, things you do with your daughter?

We’re huge fans of Laser Craze in Woburn; there’s this bouncy castle. And the ICA has Family Days on the last Saturday of every month, which is free for families. There are films, tours and all sorts of activities for adults and kids to do together.

Four Questions with Elizabeth Cohen, Executive Director of Families FirstFour questions is a weekly interview column featuring interesting people connected with the Greater Boston Jewish community. Find past columns here. Have an idea of someone we should interview? Email Molly!

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