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HERRIMAN – Some days 14-year-old Jade Godfrey is your typical teenager. She loves hanging with her friends, hates doing chores, doesn’t like the “school” part of school, and is self-admittedly “very sassy.”
Unlike some teens, she shares an especially close relationship with her mom, Brianna Godfrey.
“She’s great! I can talk to her. A lot of people, they’re like, ‘I don’t tell my parents everything!’ But I literally tell my parents everything!” Jade Godfrey said.
This relationship makes it easy for Brianna Godfrey to emotionally prepare her daughter for the ninth grade at Fort Herriman Middle School. Their back-to-school plan this year is about more than simply helping Jade Godfrey find her locker.
It includes providing for her kids’ emotional and mental health by having an open dialogue in their home. Brianna Godfrey said she never wants to shy away from talking about how her children feel.
“It’s OK if you’re sad, but if you’re sad for too long let’s talk about it,” she explained to her kids.
Brianna Godfrey and her husband hold a family meeting each month with their kids to check in on their well-being.
“Everyone leaves their phones in the other room. No media. No TV’s on. Nothing,” she said.
Brianna Godfrey also downloaded the Safe UT app with her daughter and taught her how to use it.
She explained how to submit a tip about a friend she might be worried about or for herself in the event she didn’t feel comfortable talking to her own mother.
She is also enrolling Jade in rec volleyball — Jade’s favorite sport. Jade said volleyball is a great coping skill for managing stress.
“I can be having the hardest day ever and then I’ll go down the street and play volleyball with Sheridan (her friend) and I forget anything is even happening,” she said.
One of the hardest things I remember was having to talk with both of my kids about the Sandy Hook shooting: 'This is something that we hope never happens at your school, but we need to talk about what may happen if it does, and what we need to do.'
–Brianna Godfrey, mother
Brianna Godfrey encourages her daughter to be involved in on-campus organizations and clubs like stage crew, dance, or Hope Squad.
This year the Godfreys' family plan also includes preparing for a school threat or emergency. Brianna first sat down with her kids in elementary school to talk about safety.
“One of the hardest things I remember was having to talk with both of my kids about the Sandy Hook shooting,” she said.
She sat her kids down and explained, “This is something that we hope never happens at your school, but we need to talk about what may happen if it does, and what we need to do.”
Brianna Godfrey said having hard conversations pays off.
“That’s when I realized this is why my children are so apt to come to me with problems and concerns,” she said.
As the PTSA president of Herriman High School, Brianna Godfrey interacts with many students on campus.
“A lot of students feel like their parents are just too busy for them, and that’s the sad reality of just having two working parents,” she said. “A lot of times they’re gone before the kids go to school, or the kids get home and the parents don’t come home for a couple hours.”
Brianna Godfrey said she wishes parents understood how influential their role is in their kids’ lives.
“It makes me upset,” she said. “It hurts me because we have to be the advocates for our children, and our children should never feel like we are too busy for them.”
She encourages all parents to be involved and to make time for their kids.
“Let your kids know that you are there and present — that you care and you want to see them succeed,” she said.
The Safe UT app now offers a new feature allowing parents and educators, in addition to students, to submit a tip about bullying, threats of school violence, a student experiencing suicidal ideation, and other school related concerns.