THOMASVILLE — Best-selling author Dr. Michael G. Thompson spoke about navigating the pitfalls of modern parenting at Brookwood School on Tuesday evening last week.
Thompson is a clinical psychologist and the author of nine books on the subjects of children, schools, and parenting, including the New York Times best-seller “Raising Cain.”
In the presentation, entitled “Raising Responsible Children,” Thompson drew on his own experience as a clinical psychologist, as well as research on parenting styles and outcomes, to explore how parents can help their children develop an internal foundation for moral behavior.
At the start of the talk, Thompson acknowledged the stress that many parents face when thinking about trying to help their children become responsible and mature individuals.
“I know that parents start to panic at a certain point,” Thompson told the parents in attendance. “They have a disorganized middle school boy or this oppositional 10-year-old, and they’re thinking, ‘Uh oh if she’s this way when she’s 35, it’s going to be horrible.’ And that’s true! But they have a lot of growing up to do, and you’re not in charge. Child development is in charge.”
A major theme of Thompson’s presentation was that children will naturally grow and mature, and that the parents’ role is not to make that growth happen, but rather to guide their children through the process.
“Your children have this magnificent biological and psychological unfolding going on in their bodies and their brains, which is truly amazing,” Thompson said. “When we get to shape things around the edges, we do.”
Thompson’s talk touched on many major themes in parenting, including discipline, communication, consistency, and the idea of being present for your child.
“You can’t be emotionally present when you’re on the phone. You can’t be emotionally present when you’re thinking about returning a text,” Thompson stated. “The biggest enemy of modern present parenting is these devices... Sometimes, when you’re with your kids, there need to be times when the devices are put away.”
After giving tips and tricks for successful parenting, as well as answering questions from parents, Thompson acknowledged one universal truth about parenting: it’s hard.
“This is the hardest thing any of us ever will do. Children knock you to your knees, you get up, and they knock you to your knees again. Nothing will make you feel as incompetent (as parents),” Thompson assured the audience.
Thompson, who also met with Brookwood students and faculty throughout the day on Tuesday, also offered his opinion on the school’s culture.
“I go to some places where the parents are so wrapped up in the elite college chase that the stress levels of their kids are extraordinarily high,” Thompson asserted. “That’s not what I’m experiencing here. Your kids know they’re getting an education that prepares them for success... The tension level in your upper schoolers is much lower than I’ve seen.”
“We were excited to have Dr. Thompson on campus. He is truly one of the nation’s experts on education, families, and parenting,” said Dr. Randy Watts, Brookwood’s headmaster. “Each of his talks were inspiring and impactful.”