In anticipation of our Raise Up Parenting Conference Feb. 21-22, we spoke via email with David Thomas of Raising Boys & Girls. David and his colleague, Sissy Goff, will teach on topics related to at least two of their books: Are My Kids on Track? and Modern Parents, Vintage Values. Here’s our conversation with David:
Is there a kids’ age range you recommend for parents attending this conference?
We will be discussing kids from birth through adolescence. We’ll go back and forth throughout the conference, giving examples from toddlers to teens. We commonly have grandparents attend our conferences with their adult children, hoping to learn new things in caring for the kids they love. We are thrilled to have adults of all ages with us in this time.
What would be a realistic expectation for parents to bring to these two days?
Our hope is that we can learn and laugh together. Parenting is hard work, and though we’ll be talking about important ideas, we want to make the learning fun and engaging. We share visuals of the ideas we’re discussing to make the content even more relevant, alongside giving practical tips for implementing these ideas. We’ll discuss some important emotional, social and spiritual milestones we hope to see the kids we love progressing toward, but more importantly practical ideas for helping kids move toward these milestones.
What are the 2 or 3 most common, specific concerns that parents bring to you today? How does that differ from, say, 10 years ago?
Anxiety is considered to be a childhood epidemic in our country today. We’re seeing the highest numbers of any time in history, and certainly different than when we started practicing 25 years ago. Not only are more kids and adolescents struggling with worry and fear, but daily we talk with parents who see their kids struggling to regulate their emotions. They have big reactions to small events. We’ll talk about why that happens and how to help. We’ll discuss how to help kids develop more resilience and resourcefulness.
What would you say are the top 1 or 2 mistakes that you see parents making today, but that they themselves may be blind to?
Research says the two biggest mistakes parents make in discipline are too much talk and too much emotion. It’s difficult for kids to learn to regulate their emotions when they can’t see that in the adults they love. It’s easy to get stuck in an emotional tug-of-war with kids, and we hope to help parents avoid that power struggle.
The other common mistake is doing more for kids than is helpful. Kids can’t develop resourcefulness when we’re too busy being their resources.
I’m guessing that parents who attend your conferences quickly realize they never recognized in their own lives some of the emotional, social and spiritual milestones you talk about. What can parents do with their own baggage when trying to guide their kids?
It is important for all of us to pay attention to what we bring to the table. We’ll talk about one of our favorite tools for strengthening awareness in parents. We can only take the kids we love as far as we’ve gone ourselves. The equation has to start with our own awareness.
We’re reaching a point where most parents, especially those under about 40, have lived with the internet and related technology all of their adult lives. What does that mean for what we used to call the technological dividing line between generations? Where do today’s parents still get tripped up?
It’s certainly beneficial when parents have had experience and exposure, to better understand the animal of technology. However, this ever-changing, ever-evolving animal means we’re always behind, and working to understand the next wave of what’s capturing kids’ attention. We’ll talk around Taming the Technology Monster, and ways to make technology work for us as parents.
In “Modern Parents, Vintage Values,” the authors Melissa and Sissy talk about parenting in community. Can you give an example of what that looks like?
It’s vital to have some like-minded parents who are moving in the same direction — parents who share the same values and are making like-minded decisions. You may not be identical in your decision making, but you’re desiring the same things. For example, with technology, you could decide together with a small group of parents when you will all give your first cellphone or tablet. Then when your child comes home and says, “I’m the only kid in my grade without a _________ ,” your response can simply be, “well, I know for fact the Dentons, the Smiths, the Harvills and the Webers haven’t given _________ to their child as well.”
Parenting in community gives way to perspective, support, and a place to voice the challenges and hurdles of parenting. We believe in it for many reasons.
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