Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Parents Do... (among other things) - EDITED

In preparation for the parents reflection & planning meeting on June 5th (1 - 3,  talk to your point parent for directions and details!) I'm trying to create a list of genuine and quasi "traditions" -- please consider using comments to share your thoughts on what should be added, deleted or changed!  These are NOT school sponsored events (like potlucks and plays) but instead are parent initiated events.

Would it help to have a sense of classroom based traditions/parent involvement expectations too?

Monthly/Variable : Parent Forums, Chaperoning Field Trips, Movie Nights, Assemblies

Summer - Playdates & Parties
Families Invited : garden club, stories by the garden, camp 

August - Class based parties, back to school picnic/meet the teacher

September :  Curriculum Night, 7/8 camping trip, possible OC fall trip
Parents Invited : Potluck & Contradance

October :  Wolfe's Neck Trip (largely 2nd grade and younger) & Teacher Appreciation Lunch on
In-Service Days;  Parenting for Peace, Outing Club Harvest Dinner

November : Close Buy

December :  Hat Sale (not this year), Middle School Dance, Winter Solstice (8th & preschool)

January : Middle School started weekly skating, sometimes
Parents Invited to Winter Concert and Potluck

February :  Love Swap, Lasagna Sale (8th grade)

March :   Auction (heavily parent dependent),  Teacher Appreciation Lunch
Parents invited : 7/8 play and dessert potluck

April :

May : New Family Reception, Parenting for Peace, 8th grade trip
Families invited : Grandfriends Day

June : Teacher Appreciation Lunches

Any ideas for raising $, raising fun, raising the roof?

From Campaign for a Commercial Free Child

CCFC is one of my very favorite organizations - this book review comes from them -- I wonder if there are tips for our spaces?  

Book Review: Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play

We all know how important it is for children to play outdoors. And we also know that huge numbers of children are deprived of that experience. That’s why Mike Lanza’s new book Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play is so important. It provides blueprints for neighborhoods working together to encourage children’s outdoor play and to create safe spaces to enable it. In addition to step-by-step solutions for families and communities, Lanza highlights inspirational stories from communities in the United States and Canada that have transformed themselves into neighborhoods that encourage the kind of independent outdoor play that many of us remember from our childhoods.

Lanza explores new trends in urban and suburban design—walkable communities, common space, co-housing, and back yard “playscapes.” He describes neighborhoods where the ingenuity and commitment of a few individuals have transformed blocks into thriving communities that support children’s outdoor play—and he provides step-by-step instructions to help others make similar transformations. He gives hints for prospective homebuyers in how to identify a neighborhood that supports or can support children’s play. And he gives suggestions for creating “kid hangouts” in existing neighborhoods.

Playborhood is a wonderfully practical and inspiring guide to transforming neighborhoods into play spaces. One caveat: It’s troubling to us that Lanza urges parents to buy cell phones for kids as young as nine in order to make parents feel more comfortable about their being outside unsupervised. That’s the same argument marketers were making years ago as they began pushing cell phones on ever-younger children—feeding into parents’ fears to sell them on phones for children. And given all his other great suggestions and the huge amount of time children spend with screen technologies, advocating for cell phones for young kids seems, at best, superfluous. The media and marketing industries are already doing a phenomenal job of convincing parents their young kids need phones—they don’t need help from someone whose primary commitment is to outdoor play.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Links Links Links

-- Audra found this Lisa Belkin article "Parenting and the Zen of Roller Coaster Riding" reminiscent of Michael Thompson's suggestion that kids need to do their own work of growing up, but compassionate that we parents are constantly developing in relation to our parenting-identities and relationships as well.

-- Here's kind of a fun spin-off of the Myers-Briggs test for kids... it is interesting to consider how much personality is fixed vs. a set of skills and preferences and how various temperaments mesh and conflict in families and groups.  There are free tests for grown-ups online too but maybe it would be a fun forum or fundraiser to have a workshop with a trained person next year at school?

Susan Cain, author of "Quiet" shares her understanding of the power of introverts in this Ted Talk

-- Check out this fun braincap

Ellen McHenry is the artist behind this and she offers a ton of awesome downloads for educators... can't wait to explore her site

O Magazine has a piece on resilience this month that spoke to me  (but I can't find the link) - - there is something about all the endings that happen in May in a school-based life that can make me anxious.  As cliched as it is, Oprah suggests Yoga and this summer I'm going to try it -- (Tuesdays @ 4:30 at Prince Memorial Library if anyone wants to join me...)

Jack Kornfield quote
From O online :  Illustration: Jennifer Troyer
Published on May 17, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Outing Club Camping

Outing Club takes our last trip of the year next weekend, to Rangeley State Park.  I grew up in Maine, but have never been to Rangeley- I'm a little nervous about the black flies but psyched for another chance to be outdoors with OC!  On Sunday, we'll climb Saddleback.  

If the going gets too rough, here's Maine Magazine's ideas for 48 hours in Rangeley

The trip is primarily for OC members but if there are families curious to learn about OC in anticipation of signing up next year, talk to Nicole about joining in the fun -- DEADLINE IS TUESDAY!

It is a pretty long drive... for treats, consider Forage in Lewiston for morning bagels, or the Bread Shack in Auburn for fabulous sandwiches; Nezinscot Farm in Turner for veggies and tea

Any tips for ice cream on the route back?

View Larger Map

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The 1/2 goes to college

Katie's class has been studying rocks and minerals and they are both jazzed and experts. Today they had their first University course and they rocked the house!  They knew so much -- so much more than me -- and they were so curious.  I shared with Katie that they were collectively more enthusiastic about learning than my college students and I think she should be quite proud of her learners!  I am also grateful to Prof. Mark 

I was a bit bemused that despite my endless efforts, the hypothetical dinosaurs were always "he" -- what's a feminist mom to do?

Front Cover
Katie mentioned that kids have learned a ton from the Magic School Bus book about rocks; thinking maybe it is this one? 

Ask one of them about their favorite mineral - there are a lot of cool ones to choose from! And above : have you ever wondered what is inside those rocks in the garden? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gender Segregation

One of the things I love about FSP is that there is a downplaying of sex/gender differences and instead a focus on individuality and relationship based on interests -- there is less stereotyping and less "boxing in" than in the bigger world. 

Here is a great short video that addresses the value of integration (interesting to see the Maine Civil Liberties Union suing the Sanford School District over single-sex education...)

Lemon Cake & Community

I brought a lemon yogurt cake to yesterday's meeting and had some requests for the recipe -  I made this one by Ina Garten except that I doubled it, using 4 eggs 'cause that is all I had, and baked it in a bundt pan.

The meeting offered some lovely insights about how we each individually and then collectively experience change, dissent, acceptance, loss, growth, disappointment, intimacy, power, and commitment.  There are no right answers, but learning how to live in community does seem like a central element of our children's education and our lifelong learning, too.

One query that surfaced related to the ongoing question of how we best create spaces for sharing information and our voices.  Parents are invited to a reflection and planning meeting on June 5th to discuss these questions  ( one endless question is when is the best time for meetings? )

Another question is about the use of social media for FSP community building.  Should we create a private network (like Glassboard)?  Should we resurrect our Yahoo Group for email conversations or a bulletin board style communication?  Is there a way to bring more writers onto this blog to stimulate a diversity of conversation?  Should we just have more potlucks?  Or are we mostly solid in our groupness?

And then there are the deeper questions that come out of being a parents group-- how do we make sure a diversity of voices are heard, how do we welcome new parents in, how do we get the work done with joyfulness, how do we discern our place in relationship to our children and the school (knowing that changes often).

For now, please consider using the point parent system to share thoughts, use the comments here, talk to Kim or Helen, or consider throwing an end of the year class party, organize a summer get together, invite parents to do something or simply bring the Quaker value of sharing our light and seeing the light in others as we engage in end of the year celebrations together!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sunscreen Saftey

The Enviornmental Working Group's Sunscreen Guide is out and Mother Jones has a good article describing the issues...

Maybe Close Buy will add in sunscreen next year!

Petition for Safe Chemicals Act

Maine Moms & Others are bringing a petition in support of the Safe Chemicals Act to DC - we should get them up to at least 5,000 signatures!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post by Anne Gresinger re : Michael Thompson

 Anne offers this reflection on the Michael Thompson workshop as an invitation for us to talk more about what we learned and what we think about his ideas... use the comments, or let's have a lunch!

I enjoyed the workshop. It was informative in many ways. I know the usual format for this is longer (I think he said 6 hours) and usually involves more interactive playing-out of roles, but I imagine it was difficult to fit much of that in given the time constraint and the very light parent-only attendance. This worked well for me because I'm way too shy to have participated in role-playing without great anxiety.

I went to the workshop because I'm still trying to sort out why things went as badly as they did in Onare's public school experience - why weren't our conscientious and open communications more well-received and effective? ...and why did it seem like effective communications within the school were discouraged? ...and how can I make sure that I'm communicating with the teachers and staff at FSP in a way that does work well for all? So the way Michael spoke more about what teachers are dealing with was very helpful, as well as what he had to offer about distinctions which so often aren't clear when it comes to where parenting ends and teaching begins, or visa versa.

As a pychologist, it makes sense that Michael would seek to differentiate these roles in order to help people better understand what is confusing and difficult for many of us. He made important points like:

~ People, when meeting with a teacher, will bring the means they are most familiar with to the table in a way that's very helpful to be aware of and to consider. From what he said, lawyers often frame things up from an adversarial point of view, for example... or parents who are strictly invested in accademic achievement might be a challenge to connect with when it comes to letting their child develope a natural aptitude more well suited to the arts.

~ The importance of being as open and honest as possible was a great thing to note too. I think this is just really important no matter what the situation, but a good example was the teacher who tells the parents what is really happening with their child after being dropped off rather than just saying, "Oh, he was fine... no problem." when the parents had known very well that the child was in real distress when they left.

~ Which carries over into his example of the man who would become very agitated and hard to be around whenever entering his child's elementary school... not because of what was happening at the time, but because of his own past experiences at school. This is something I deal with now as I try to talk with teachers and administrators even at FSP. I self-consciously apologize for my involuntary distress in order to try and dispel that tension, but also as a nod toward explanation. This hasn't seemed to go over well, though, so I was glad that Michael brought this to people's attention.

~ Another good point Michael made is that people, parent or teacher, need to know they've been heard. This show of willing openness goes a long way in alleviating tension in most any situation.

~ There was one point that Michael made which I think is particularly telling, and that had to do with the way teachers are not trained to be psychologists. I couldn't help but equate that with the way doctors are not taught about good nutrition and how this is inseparable from many of the health conditions they'll be asked to treat. I imagine this must be beginning to change when it comes to what's required to become a doctor, and I see the same shift needing to be recognized in the field of teaching. I'm thinking that either teachers could be better prepared for this important aspect of their whole teaching experience, or it should be a much higher priority to have a full-time psychologist or counselor taking part in schools today. That said though, I find that there's less need for this here at FSP. Even though it would be great to have a full-time counselor at the school to take the edge off of the demand these things can have and the toll it sometimes takes on both teachers and kids, the quality and the philosophy of the counselor is key. There are times when a counselor can be too invested in given formats designed to keep things "in order"...when methods learned become more important than an open and flexible assessment in the moment. With this in mind, I think any person who's able to stay connected to their heart, as well as having needed wisdom gained from experience, is going to have a pretty good sense of what's right and what's needed in those challenging situations we all find ourselves in now and then. It seems to me that the Quaker presence and philosophy at the school makes for a much higher percentage of people who are willing and able to address life challenges in ways that are both kind and effective.

So to wrap things up, I'd say Michael did a great job covering different ways things can not work so well in his effort to show why this is, and how things can work better. As a psychologist, he shows a desire to sort things out in order to make them more manageable, less conflictual. This is all very helpful... we can all put more energy into how to approach life in a way that is more likely to resolve conflict rather than feed or accentuate these tensions. But it seems worth saying that it's important to allow what isn't working to be a part of life... that the point isn't so much to avoid or suppress what's painful, but instead to honor those who are in pain in a way that brings honest resolve. If something isn't working or isn't right, then it's important to embrace that thing in the same way an adult would embrace a child with a cut that needs to be cleaned, treated, and lovingly bandaged. Although it's helpful to have roles differentiated so that we can talk about what works and what doesn't as well as appropriate guidelines to follow, there is an important degree of gray area there which is needed for people to find what doesn't work and what it really is that's causing them pain. Without this, these aspects within us often aren't allowed to come forward in a way that brings needed resolve. In the end, I think Michael offered some good tools for achieving this, and some important things to reflect on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thursday June 7th - Keeping Boys Close!

Boys to Men is pleased to offer this free community event:  

The Mama's Boy Myth - Kate Lombardi: Author Talk and Q & A

Come join author Kate Lombardi as she  re-examines the mother-son relationship and challenges the "mama's boy" taboo, exploring the societal pressures for mothers to push away their boys while considering how men with close bonds to their mothers can show higher levels of emotional intelligence.

The Mama's Boy Myth:  Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger Kby Kate Stone Lombardi

Thursday, June 7th, 6:30-8:30pm  Portland Public Library
The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period with author Kate Lombardi

Please RSVP by June 1st as space is limited. Admission is free with donations accepted at the door

Please click here to REGISTER NOW!! Contact Katherine Doughty at Boys to Men if you have any questions at 207-774-9994 or

Click here for an NPR interview and link to an excerpt! 


Monday, May 14, 2012

Cuts to Fund for Healthy Maine

Dear Friends - I try not to use this blog for my own political purposes (too often) but I do believe these budget cuts require us to act on the underlying Quaker Values that bring us to FSP.  The bulk of this information was shared by Jennifer Lunden of The Center for Creative Healing

If you don't want all the info, you can skip right to the petition to restore funding.   There will be a silent rally at the Statehouse tomorrow at 9:30am to protest these cuts!!!

According to the Maine Association of Social Workers, the proposed budget includes :
  •  Cuts $2M of funding for Head Start, which means that 216 very young children will no longer have access to Head Start and the vital supports it provides to these children and their families. Head Start is an investment in these children's future, as it provides early care and education, as well as health, nutrition, mental health, social and family supports; Cuts nearly $2M of funding for the Child Care Subsidy Program.  This will lead to a deep cut in the availability of child care vouchers for families with incomes below 250% FPL and will negatively impact 1,400 children. The child care subsidy program helps parents with low income to afford the child care they need in order to work;
  • Eliminates funding ($2.6 M) for the Maine Families Home Visiting Program, which will eliminate vital services for Maine's most vulnerable infants and children.  Approximately 750 families will lose services focused on family substance abuse, domestic violence, prevention of abusive head trauma, and the health and safety of children;
  • Eliminates funding ($401,430) for Family Planning. This will result in the closure of seven rural clinics that provide health care, plus other reductions in services in other locations.
  • Eliminates $300,000 for dental services for people with low incomes and no other source of dental help.
  • The complete elimination of MaineCare coverage for 7,000 young adults (19 and 20 year olds) who are under 150% of the poverty level. Although most uninsured young adults work full-time, employment is typically in low-wage jobs, for small firms, and in industries where employer-sponsored insurance is less likely to be provided. As a result, low-income young adults have little financial ability to purchase health coverage and are far more likely to be uninsured than other age groups. This proposal will increase Maine's uninsured rolls by over 7,000 people.
  • Eliminates MaineCare coverage for another 14,500 low-income working parents (those with income between 100-133% FPL). As part of a compromise earlier this session, the legislature already voted to eliminate coverage for 14,000 working parents between 133-200% FPL.  This would double the amount of parents who will have coverage stripped from them and targets parents who are struggling with even fewer resources.
  • Cuts the Drugs for the Elderly Program (DEL) that helps seniors and people with disabilities afford their prescription drugs by eliminating eligibility for people between 175-185% FPL of the poverty level. These are individuals with serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and Lou Gehrig's disease.
To contact "swing" Legislators directly :

Andre Cushing (running for Senate) (Hamden); (207) 449-1358

Karen Foster (Augusta):; (207) 622-2930

Jim Hamper (Oxford):; (207) 539-4586

Ryan Harmon  (Palermo):; (207) 993-6034

Jane Knapp (Gorham):; 207-839-3880

Gary Knight  (Livermore Falls):; (207) 897-2489

Joyce Maker   (Calais):; (207) 454-2327

Kim Olsen  (Phippsburg):; (207) 389-2237

Jon Courtney (in leadership and running for Congress) (York):; (207) 324-5467

Brian Langley   (Hancock):; (207) 667-0625

Earl McCormick   (Kennebec):; (207) 724-3228

Kevin Raye (in leadership and running for Congress) (Washington):; (207) 853-9406

Friday, May 11, 2012

Internet Pornography - 2 NYT articles

So How Do We Talk About This? When Children See Internet Pornography

Disruptions: Indiscreet Photos, Glimpsed Then Gone By NICK BILTON

June 3 - Taylor Mali - From Anna Boll

June 3, 2012, 7 pm, at University of New England, Portland campus, Taylor Mali, poet, performer and poetry slam winner will be reading. His poem "What Teachers Make," went viral on YouTube a while ago and with the release of the poem in book form, it's sure to start turning up again. Send it to your favorite teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11). Proceeds from the show go to help the Cobscook Community Learning Center. Also reading are Gary Lawless and Elizabeth Peavey.

You can get ticket here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Michael Thompson on 207!

Michael Thompson did a great job talking about Bullying / Friendship on 207

Again, not loving the "mean girl" discourse (I do love Lyn Michel Brown's book about the topic and her work with Hardy Girls) but still so many important issues to talk about :

Also, the Bully Movie is coming to Maine.  Below is an email from Eveningstar Cinema in Brunswick:

Dear Fellow Cinephiles:I was a victim of bullying. From third grade right through high school, I was constantly bullied, for all the usual reasons - I was small, weak, afraid, Jewish. I remember the names of everyone who bullied me, and some go back almost 50 years. To this day, I have no idea what I would do if I ever confronted them. This is why the film Bully is so important. If you have ever been bullied; been the one doing the bullying; a parent of someone who has been bullied; the parent of a bully; no connection to bullying at all - this is a film you must see. Period.
(UR)(99 minutes) 

Eveningstar Cinema
Schedule for Friday, May 11, 2012 until Thursday, May 17, 2012 
Bully  PG-13
Rated for intense thematic material, disturbing content, and some strong language -all involving kids- 94 minutes
photoFollowing 5 kids and families over the course of a school year, an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals' offices, offering insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children.Fri: (1:30)(4:00)6:308:45
Sat: (1:30)(4:00)6:308:45
Sun: (1:30)(4:00)6:308:45
Mon: (1:30)(4:00)6:30
Tue: (1:30)(4:00)6:30
Wed: (1:30)(4:00)6:30
Thu: (1:30)(4:00)6:30

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sex, Gender, Kids & Brains

There was so much that I agreed with in Michael Thompson's May 2nd talk, but I recognized some differences in our worldview and academic disciplines, too... As a sociologist, I am trained to put individual problems into a social and political context and I often thought about what we could do to make kids situations better in general -- address poverty (43% of Maine children are low-income)  enhance mental health services for kids and adults (rather than the vicious cuts we're facing), support Maine's teachers... but in particular my sociological self wanted to grab the microphone and share an alternative view of sex, gender and brains.

 exactly the same baby on each card (source : sociological images)
Michael Thompson contended that sex differences are largely hard-wired in all primates and that gender differences between boys and girls are at least partially driven by biological differences - -and he said most neuroscientists would agree.  However, there is actually a ton of debate about this topic and many would say that a) sex occurs on a continuum and the overlap between those called "male" and those called "female" is pretty significant and b) brains develop within cultural contexts and there is no separation between nature and nurture, but rather an endless reconstituting of self in relation.

This is all women's studies 101 and perhaps too much for a blog post, but it is important to note that the idea that sex differences drive "separate spheres" for boys and girls is not a closed-case, as Thompson suggested.

For more --

See neuroscientist Lisa Eliot's excellent book on this very topic -- Pink Brain/Blue Brain : How Small Differences Grow Into Large Gaps and What We Can Do About It    --  if it is a bit too long, watch her on or read one of the many summaries and blog posts about the book!

For a more journalistic account, check out The Truth About Girls and Boys by Rosalind Barnett and Carol Rivers (see, too, their web site). Barnett and Rivers are particularly well spoken about the implications of naturalizing sex differences as supporting inequality - read this provocative essay about girls and STEM programs)

Jennifer Bryan's new book  "From the Dress Up Corner to the Senior Prom"  addresses questions of gender diversity in school in a 21st century fashion and is well worth a read  -- we're hoping she'll do an educator's workshop (or 2) in Maine in the fall (contact me if you'd like more info or to collaborate!)

Finally, for a more complex understanding of sex, itself, watch Alice Dreger's TedTalk "Is Anatomy Destiny" or this shorter MSNBC clip talking about Caster Semenya's case. 

Next post -- the relation between sex, gender, heterosexism and bullying -- check out the backbone zone to start!

Monday, May 7, 2012

“Bullies can stop being bullies, and victims can stop being victims,” Juvonen said. “What we’ve learned is that these are temporary social roles, not permanent personality characteristics.”

New research but a consistent finding :  kids need 1 good friend! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Climate Impacts Day

Just a reminder that today is Climate Impacts Day - - and the photos already posted on the 350.Org website are incredible -- an entire planet engaged in action, creative messaging to bring attention to the importance of working together to preserve the planet and our children's future... pretty awesome!  Join FSP Outing Club at East End Beach this morning for kite making, lollipops, and participation in a global movement!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why We Need A Mother's Movement - MT debrief pt 1

Last night my family watched the pilot of My So Called Life together -- an awkward yet apt show for family viewing post Michael-Thompson's Tuesday night talk.  In the show, 15 yr old Angela is needing to expand her sense of self and explore new friendships, much to the grief of her oldest friend.
Things were getting to me. Just how people are. How they always expect you to be a certain way. Even your best friend.   (This and all quotes from this site)
That expansion includes her relationship to her parents - at one point in the show, her bubble thoughts over dinner include:

Lately, I can't even look at my mother without wanting to stab her repeatedly. 
My daughter accidently says aloud that she knows that feeling (but quickly reassures me it isn't that often);  I remember that feeling in my own 12-year old self.  Angela goes on to acknowledge:
My dad and I used to be pretty tight. The sad truth is, my breasts have come between us. 
None of us say anything to that.

Angela is iconic and it is depressing that the show only lasted 1-season because I have much to learn from Angela's mother!  In the pilot she is uptight, earnest, loving, responsible, tight-lipped and totally unsure of what to do or say next.  She doesn't want to always be the "bad-guy" parent and yet totally wants some semblance of control and connection -- when she suggests family ice skating and one-by-one the members of her family peel off, I wanted to cry.  When Angela ends up in her bed, snuggled up and sleeping, I was a full blown mess. My kids left the tv room quickly.

This morning, I said to my spouse - -is there any way to be a good mother and not be like her?  It just so seems to be the role we're cast into, problematic as it is.

But I do think Michael Thompson provides a clue, not an "out" but an addendum -- anxiety management (aka Kripalu).  In both his workshop on parent-teacher communication and evening program on children's social development, Thompson noted that parent-anxiety fuels more of the problems facing kids than the kid-problems themselves.  He provided example after example of times that kids hit rough patches, had their feelings, sorted through some problem solving, got their revenge or made their apologies and moved on, while parents stayed stuck in the high-drama of the initial catalyzing event.  Much the same as a toddler looks to a parent to find out if they're really hurt after taking a spill, and we try to train ourselves in the "no big deal" kind of response to bumps and bruises, parents of older kids need to see some harrowing friendship challenges in a similar light.  It is normal for Angela to experiment with a new friend, hurt feelings though it causes.  It is even normal for Angela to sneak out to a keg party and have a good/bad time and feel confused.  As the police officer at the end of the episode notes, what she needs is a steadfast friend, and she has one in her neighbor.  Michael Thompson makes the same point -- with a good friend, most other experiences in the social pecking order can be absorbed and even character building.

Thompson argued that kids in elementary school are learning about what makes a good friend, and that most have mastered the developmental idea by the end of 9th grade. In fact, over 1/2 the audience had friendships remaining from their younger childhood and he points to that as evidence that children's friendships are not so different from those of adults.  Kids know what make good friendships (a post for another day) and Thompson argues that about 85% of kids naturally develop reasonable enough social skills that they have social resilience and that much of the remaining 15% can be taught skills for social development through school-based interventions (friendship training groups). Overall, his message is not to diminish the significance of genuine 1-1 bullying, but also not to conflate regular childhood meanness with a serious problem.

So, that brings us to yoga and activism.  As a parent who birthed my first child at what seemed to be the height of attachment parenting, I loved keeping my baby close (except when I didn't).  But the ideal of attachment parenting was actually about promoting later independence, yet that part is not spelled out with nearly the same intensity of instruction.  Now I'm trying to channel:  "keep calm and carry on." Worry becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, giving kids the message that they are fragile, poor problem solvers, or that the world is simply too terrifying for them to live in.  Being too worried-about can feel claustrophobic - no one wants to be quite so precious.  So, in many ways Thompson's message is for worried parents to develop some mindfulness, some strategies for equilibrium and perspective, some distraction for ourselves so that we're not overly invested in micro-managing our children.

But, I can not help but think that we could also channel our individual worries for our individual children into some potent activism.  It is true that a heartbreaking crush is part of growing up; it doesn't have to be true that sexual harassment is part of everyday life in school.  It is true that sometimes school can feel maddening; we don't have to watch our schools decline for political reasons. It is true that teens worry about how they look to others; never the less, we can address the sexualization of childhood in the media.  It is true that kids can be picky eaters; that doesn't mean we shouldn't care about our future food supply.

My point is that our love for our individual children trumps all else, but sometimes they do need a bit less intensity of focus while children in general could use so much more attention from adults.

I'm curious what others took away from Michael Thompson's talk -- email me with guest posts ( or use the comments -- on Monday I'll post a challenge to his Brain Science on Sex Differences.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Debriefing Michael Thompson

We had such a wonderful visit from Michael Thompson, so full of rich information and queries - we will chew on the ideas for a long time!

I will post more reflections soon but would LOVE for others to "guest blog" or use the comments to share insights, queries, etc.

Also, please look on the FSP website for hand-outs for both the workshop and the evening program (we could not make enough copies for the evening, but it is available to download).

Finally, donations in honor of P4P speakers series are always appreciated!