“I wanted to remind everybody that for many of us, while we love our parents to pieces, the sweetest moments of our childhood were when we had independence from them.”
-Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
In Episode 10 of the podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite parenting and camp experts, best-selling author Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
For more than three decades, Thompson has been a clinical psychologist, school and camp consultant, and international speaker on the subjects of children, schools and parenting.
Throughout my career as a camp director, Michael has graciously offered his wisdom, advice and mentoring. I’ve written about his conference sessions, books, and wisdom in several of my posts, including Homesickness Help and Secondary Homesick: When Your Camper Doesn’t Want to go Back to Camp.
I continue to learn a lot from Thompson’s books and conference training sessions and I highly recommend his book Homesick and Happy to parents who are unsure about whether to send their child to camp. Thompson wrote the book to “remind parents of how lovely it is to be away from home.”
In the podcast, we also talk about some of Thompson’s other books, including three of his popular books about raising boys, two of which I have just added to my own library (Speaking of Boys and It’s a Boy):
“With candid questions and thoughtful, detailed responses, Speaking of Boys covers hot-button topics such as peer pressure, ADHD/ADD, and body image as well as traditional issues such as friendship, divorce, and college and career development. This perceptive, informative, and passionate book will leave you not only with useful, practical advice but also with the comforting knowledge that other parents share the same concerns you do when it comes to raising our boys into well-adjusted, responsible men.”
“In Raising Cain, Michael Thompson and collaborator Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., two of the country’s leading child psychologists, share what they have learned in decades of combined experience working with boys and their families. They reveal a nation of boys who are hurting—sad, afraid, angry, and silent. Drs. Thompson and Kindlon set out to answer this basic, crucial question: What do boys need that they’re not getting? They illuminate the forces that threaten our boys, teaching them to believe that “cool” equals macho strength and stoicism. Cutting through outdated theories of “mother blame,” “boy biology,” and “testosterone,” the authors shed light on the destructive emotional training our boys receive–the emotional mis-education of boys.
The book makes a compelling case that emotional literacy is the most valuable gift we can offer our sons, urging parents to recognize the price boys pay when we hold them to an impossible standard of manhood. The two psychologists identify the social and emotional challenges that boys encounter in school and show how parents can help boys cultivate emotional awareness and empathy–giving them the vital connections and support they need to navigate the social pressures of youth.”
Thompson’s It’s a Boy is a chronological book starting from before your boy is born all the way through being a high school senior. Thompson recommends “dipping into” this book, not reading it all the way through until your boy gets to the age Thompson talks about it.
“It’s a Boy! provides expert advice on the developmental, psychological, social, emotional, and academic life of boys from infancy through the teen years. Exploring the many ways in which boys strive for masculinity and attempt to define themselves, psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., a leading international expert on boys’ development, and journalist Teresa H. Barker identify the key developmental transitions that mark a boy’s psychological growth and emotional health, and the challenges both boys and parents face at each age.”
Thompson also wrote an excellent book (which I have in my library and have read) about the social lives of children called Best Friends, Worst Enemies.
“Best Friends, Worst Enemies brings to life the drama of childhood relationships, guiding parents to a deeper understanding of the motives and meanings of social behavior. Here you will find penetrating discussions of the difference between friendship and popularity, how boys and girls deal in unique ways with intimacy and commitment, whether all kids need a best friend, why cliques form and what you can do about them.”
If you don’t have any of Thompson’s book in your parenting library, I recommend you pick one up and check it out. His warmth, breadth of experience, and practical advice are incredibly valuable.