On this episode of the Plan Simple Meals Podcast, I’m really excited to talk with Michael Thompson, a psychologist specializing in children and families. He’s the author of Best Friends/Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children, Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, and Speaking of Boys: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions about Raising Sons among others.
We start out talking about the importance of family dinner and about how we talk at dinner matters. Family dinner is a safe space for kids to talk about what is happening during their day. As parents we hear about things and want to fix them, but that’s not necessarily what our kids want or need. One point that Michael made that struck me was, “The parental point of view is not the kid point of view.”
Our conversation moved into the differences between boys and girls. Michael started by saying, “We’re all human beings and we all have feelings and our feelings can get hurt and we have yearnings and longings to be cared for and respected.” The difference is often how boys and girls play and display their feelings.
We talk about:
- The need for friends, but not needing a BFF at all times
- An important question to ask when you intervene in a child’s friendship: “Would I have wanted my father or mother to do this to me?”
- When parents become bully groups isolating a particular kid
- The school environment not working for boys and the importance of schools and parents holding boys accountable
- Raising feminist sons vs. raising boys who aren’t jerks
- Why not to go to all your kid’s games or events
Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D. is a consultant, author and psychologist specializing in children and families. He is the supervising psychologist for the Belmont Hill School and has worked in more than seven hundred schools across the United States, as well as in international schools in Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Best Friends/Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children
- Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
- Speaking of Boys: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions about Raising Sons
- It’s a Boy: Your Son’s Development from Birth to Age 18
- The Curse of the Good Girl by Rachel Simmons
Doable Changes from this episode:
- JUST LISTEN. Try just listening to your kids at family dinner or in the car or wherever you tend to talk. Notice your own desire to “fix” things, but don’t. Instead of asking what went wrong or focusing in on a situation you find troubling, ask What went well today? Or a more open question.
- LET KIDS BE KIDS. When behavior is bothering you, stop and ask if the behavior is appropriate for your child’s age. This can be especially important for boys. Remember that your perception of a situation may not be your child’s perception. Before you intervene, ask yourself, “Would I have wanted my parent to do this?”
- SKIP A GAME. You don’t have to go to every game your child plays in or event your child is participating in. Pick a game to skip and schedule something you’ll enjoy for that time. Let your child know you won’t be there, but be neutral about it. Listen later when they tell you about the game.