While I support the separation of church and state, I am always glad when the Spirit transforms what seems like a thoroughly secular gathering in a civic space into a true meeting of hearts and minds. Such was the case in mid-December, when author and child psychologist Michael Thompson addressed an auditorium full of parents at Watertown Middle School. If you have children, or if you’ve ever been one, you know that navigating the murky waters of social life as a child is no mean feat. It was clear from the body language, intense focus, and questions asked by the parents assembled that night that these folks love their kids more than life itself. It was clear that they want nothing more than for their child to be happy. It was clear that they find the news reports about bullying and worse simply terrifying.
I should stop saying “they.” I’m a parent, too. I was taking notes, along with everyone else. And Dr. Thompson could not have been more helpful. You could feel people exhale a bit more deeply with each minute, as he reassured us that “the kids are alright.” Our kids just need a few friends — a few folks who look them in the eye when they arrive at school and say “hello.” He encouraged us (gently, understandingly) to stop trying to engineer our kids’ social lives, as though they were running for homecoming queen all the time.
What are the best things you can do for your kid? Dr. Thompson says, (1) send them to camp, (2) take them to church/synagogue, and (3) get them involved in scouts. Since these three activities encompass about 95% of my waking hours, and I generally have my kids with me, I was reassured.
We cannot protect our children from everything. To put it bluntly, I hate that. But I am glad for the other parents who have been my “personal cabinet” along the way, and I am thankful for groups like Watertown Youth Coalition who are trying to pave a smoother road for our children.
Off to Brownies….!