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Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

Operation parent provides resources for youth issues including mental health and wellness.
Season 14 Episode 11 Length 28:22 Premiere: 11/16/18

Operation Parent

Jean Schumm thought things were going well for her and her husband and their five young children.

Then the kids started to hit their teenage years and began to experience all the new challenges and social pressures that accompany that stage of life. Schumm admits she didn’t understand the teen culture her children were entering into and certainly wasn’t prepared to deal with it. Things grew especially tense with her oldest daughter, Amanda, whose rebellious behaviors tested the family’s bonds.

“Truly I was ill-prepared,” Schumm says. “Our relationship strained because I was really far removed from her world.”

Their relationship would ultimately survive and grow deeper, but for Schumm it would take persistence, tough love, and a willingness to learn new parenting skills.

She decided to use her experiences to help other parents navigate similar challenges. Schumm formed the non-profit organization Operation Parent, which produces guidebooks, webinars, and other materials that give parents practical advice for surviving the day-to-day challenges of raising a teenager or preteen in today’s world.

That once-rebellious daughter is now grown and the parent of her own two young children. Amanda Gale also works for the Oldham County-based organization as the Director of Community Partnerships. Schumm and Gale appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss how their experiences inform the work of Operation Parent.

They can laugh about it now, but Gale admits she brought a lot of conflict to the Schumm family when she was younger. In high school she started socializing with a new group of friends. That led to her testing or outright breaking the boundaries set by her parents.

“I definitely caused a lot of strain and stress in the house just from decisions I was making,” Gale admits. “That was impacting my parents… and then that was spilling over into my younger siblings, watching every move I’m making.”

“She was a strong-willed child,” Schumm says of her daughter. “We saw her changing her personality based on some of the friends she was hanging out with, and that was a scary thing to watch.”

Things came to a head when Gale was freshman in college. Schumm and her husband told their daughter if she didn’t change her ways, she would have to move out of the house. Although tensions had been escalating in Schumm home for a couple of years, Gale says the conversation caught her off guard.

But it also did something else. Gale says it gave her a new respect for her parents.

“I didn’t see it all right then and there – it did take a little bit of time to digest,” Gale says. “But now especially as an adult and as a parent now myself, I know everything that they were doing and trying to do was to protect me and keep me safe and keep me healthy.”

It was also a learning experience for Schumm. She says she realized every time she and her husband tolerated a bad behavior, they were essentially teaching that behavior in their children. They had to learn as parents to set good boundaries, and then keep them in place.

But even that wasn’t easy. She says there came a point when she felt that her children and the teen culture was stronger than she was.

“I literally was so overwhelmed and so discouraged as a parent,” Schumm says. “I needed somebody to tell me, ‘Don’t give up, Jean, you’re still in the game.’”

No Matter How Bad It Gets, ’Keep Parenting’
Those experiences led Schumm to found Operation Parent about a dozen years ago. She talked with guidance counselors at her local high school to learn about the primary issues facing teens today, from substance abuse and family dynamics, to bullying and social media. Then she worked with experts to create a series of handbooks that would raise parental awareness about these issues, and give tips to help parents and their children have meaningful conversations about them.

Now the organization’s materials are also available online as downloadable e-books as well as webinars that parents can attend live or watch later in streaming video.

Schumm says the organization originally focused on parents with children entering high school. But considering the pervasive influence of cellphones, social media, and the addiction crisis, Schumm says Operation Parent also now offers materials for parents of elementary and middle school children. She says the conversations have to start that early to prevent a crisis from developing later, especially when it comes to drug abuse.

“We need to move at a faster rate than we are on prevention,” Schumm says. “We are losing young people and adults to this heroin and opiate crisis…. We can’t sit back and do things the same old way we’ve done them forever. It’s time for a new approach.”

That includes thinking that having “the talk” with a child about a particular issue is all a parent has to do. Instead, Schumm says it has to be an ongoing dialog that evolves as the child ages and is exposed to new sets of life challenges.

“That conversation needs to be two-way and you can’t freak out when you learn something that’s shocking,” Schumm says. “You’ve got to maintain that relationship.”

And most of all, Schumm says, keep parenting, even when you’re as overwhelmed, discouraged, and afraid as she was.

“You’re the number one influencer in your child’s life. Don’t ever lose that,” she says. “You’re going to hit some low spots, you’re going to feel like you might even lose them. This is when you step into your role even more.”

’It’s Worth the Fight”
That motto of “keep parenting” resonates with Schumm’s daughter, Amanda Gale, especially now that she’s a mother of a two and four-year old.

“It is our role to protect our kiddos,” says Gale. “While we can try say it’s the teacher’s role, it’s the church’s role… I’m the parent, I am their protector, and it is my God-given role to do that, and if don’t step boldly into that role, I cannot expect anyone else to do that.”

Looking back on her own youth, Gale says she never would have asked for the kind of intervention her parents ultimately held to help her, but she’s glad they did it. She says she thinks every child craves those kinds of healthy boundaries. Gale says that made it possible for her and her mother to be good friends and co-workers today.

“It’s pretty cool to see how some of our most trying times have turned into this relationship,” Gale says. “Even though those days were hard, I wouldn’t change them.”

Schumm says she was blessed to have five children because she says that gave her the opportunity to learn and practice the parenting skills she didn’t know when Gale was young. That’s part of what makes her so passionate about helping new parents learn these skills before a problem arises.

“I know that by being a more informed and a humble parent, and a parent who has the courage to actually talk and have some of the tough conversations is going to have a much easier ride than what we went through,” Schumm says.

“Almost every family in this country is struggling with one or more of the issues that we address here at Operation Parent,” she adds. “Please don’t give up on your or your children, because it’s so worth the fight.”

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Season 14 Episodes

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 08/04/19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 07/28/19

Filmmaker Lynn Novick

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 07/14/19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 07/07/19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 06/02/19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 05/19/19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 05/12/19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 05/05/19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/21/19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/14/19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 04/07/19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 03/31/19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 02/22/19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 02/15/19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 02/08/19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 02/01/19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 01/25/19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 01/18/19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 01/11/19

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lincoln Lexington Walking Tour

S14 E13 Length 28:55 Premiere Date 12/14/18

Youth Suicide

S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 12/07/18

Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

S14 E11 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/16/18

M. Christopher Brown II

S14 E10 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 11/09/18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11/02/18

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S14 E8 Length 29:16 Premiere Date 10/26/18

Amy McGrath

S14 E7 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 10/19/18

Kevin Chapman - Youth Mental Health

S14 E6 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 10/12/18

Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

S14 E5 Length 26:03 Premiere Date 10/05/18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 09/28/18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 09/21/18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 09/14/18

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  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kiley Lane Parker - S10 E29

  • Monday September 26, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 5:29 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 4:29 am CT on KETKY

David Adkins - The Council of State Governments - S18 E3

  • Sunday September 25, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 11:59 am ET on KET
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 10:59 am CT on KET

Kevin Chapman - S10 E28

  • Friday September 23, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kendell Nash - ECHO - S10 E27

  • Thursday September 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dorothy Edwards and Diane Fleet - S10 E26

  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Elaine Chao - S10 E23

  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 2:06 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 1:06 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Diabetes Epidemic - S10 E20

  • Monday September 19, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington - S18 E2

  • Sunday September 25, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 24, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 24, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees - S10 E16

  • Friday September 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

15K Degrees Initiative - S10 E13

  • Thursday September 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sister Helen Prejean - S10 E12

  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court - S10 E11

  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bill Farmer - S10 E8

  • Monday September 12, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

State Treasurer Allison Ball - S18 E1

  • Sunday September 11, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Reporter Jonathan Bullington - S17 E23

  • Sunday September 18, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 17, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 17, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Friday September 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Thursday September 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bloggers on Personal Development - S10 E2

  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Monday September 5, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Nikki Lanier - Harper Slade - S17 E22

  • Sunday September 11, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 10, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 10, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Delanor Manson - Kentucky Nurses Association - S17 E36

  • Sunday September 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Friday September 2, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Thursday September 1, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Monday August 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 29, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Exploring Solutions to the Healthcare Worker Shortage - S17 E14

  • Sunday August 28, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
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