I loved the addition of graphic artists at this year’s NAIS Annual Conference. It was a marvel to watch them work and then see the finished product – huge poster board representations of the words of the main speakers.
Here are some examples drawn for Wendy Mogel’s talk. She is the clinical psychologist author of two “Blessings” books. The first was the skinned knee and the follow-up is the B minus.
Basic message: Let kids be kids, let them survive obstacles, leap hurdles and survive failure and all manner of scrapes and bruises on their way to becoming autonomous adults.
One thing she revealed was that her father had been an editor of National Lampoon and that comes as no surprise.: Her topics are deadly serious (parenting, child-rearing, education, child safety) but her presentations are a series of hilarious one-liners.
Parents are consumed with anxiety, she says. They worry about every aspect of their children’s’ lives and well-being. They are also worrying about the big things – the economy, global warming, the future – things that are beyond individual control. The result does not bode well for schools and teachers as parents turn their attention to what they think they can control: next year’s choice of classroom teacher for example.
Dr. Mogel’s basic mantra is : The kids are alright. Let them be children. Leave them alone. And that a dose of misery, suffering, deprivation etc. can be part of the growing up process. It’s a version of “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child” thinking that says building resilience is more important that ensuring everything goes smoothly.
Here are some graphical vignettes from the giant poster the artist created from Mogel’s words. Each has to do with an aspect of her talk.
For further detail about what colleges mean when they label students “tea-cups’ and “krispies”; why a paid job at Baskin Robbins or as a camp counselor is better preparation for college than a paid community service trip to Africa and why protecting children from the sight of blood is plain wrong you can read her book: The Blessings of a B Minus.
It takes on the question,“How can I be an effective parent in a culture that breeds anxiety and entitlement in children?” Dr. Mogel is a witty and entertaining guide of how to navigate the treacherous waters of parenting and navigating the teenage years. She draws on a unique combination of Jewish teaching and psychological insight to provide guidance that is both reassuring and hilarious.