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  • Writer's pictureThe Rivers School

Practical Wisdom for the Parenting Journey: Introducing Two Amazing Speakers

As a parent, I am always on the lookout for mentors — people who can help me respond a little more purposefully, responsively, and wisely to the ups and downs inherent in raising kids. I find mentors in friends and family. And I find them in experts who have spent years studying aspects of human development and who know how to translate their wisdom to a broader audience.

Two such expert mentors will visit Rivers this month to talk to our parent body. On October 18, renowned adolescent psychotherapist and author Katie Hurley will offer insights into helping our kids navigate social and emotional struggles, practice forgiveness and empathy, and manage stress and anxiety. On October 23, Harvard professor Donna Hicks will discuss human dignity and how understanding this concept can transform relationships. Both events start at 7pm in the Kraft Dining Hall.

To prime the pump, I wanted to share a piece of wisdom from each author.

In a recent interview for MindShift, Katie Hurley described what kids want most from their parents in the face of stressors:

When Hurley asks her patients what they want from their parents, the response is almost always the same: “Listen and ask questions.”
“As parents, we are not great listeners,” said Hurley, “We are very busy, constantly trying to multitask. And we are often disconnected from kids because we are connected digitally.”
When kids come to us with a problem, we tend to bounce between extremes — either dismissing their concerns as “no big deal” or jumping in to solve their problems for them. Both take less time than the alternative: guiding and supporting them as they solve their own problems.
“They need to know that it’s totally acceptable and normal to struggle at times,” said Hurley, “and we want them to come to us with their concerns. But we need to remember that parenting is about guidance, not controlling.”

In an article for Psychology Today, Donna Hicks shared this insight about how understanding dignity helps relationships:

Regardless of where in the world my work takes me, few people understand the true meaning of dignity, and even fewer realize the extraordinary impact it has on our lives and relationships . . .
. . . After people learn about dignity, a remarkable thing happens. Everyone recognizes that we all have a deep, human desire to be treated as something of value. I believe that it is our highest common denominator.
This shared desire for dignity transcends all of our differences, putting our common human identity above all else. While our uniqueness is important, history has shown us that if we don’t take the next step toward recognizing our shared identity, conflicts in our workplace, our personal lives, and between nations will continue to abound.
The glue that holds all of our relationships together is the mutual recognition of the desire to be seen, heard, listened to, and treated fairly; to be recognized, understood, and to feel safe in the world. When our identity is accepted and we feel included, we are granted a sense of freedom and independence and a life filled with hope and possibility. And when we are given an apology when someone does us harm, we recognize that even when we fall short of being our best selves, there is always a way to reconnect. “I’m sorry” are two of the most powerful words anyone can utter.

I’ll be in the audience for both, wearing my educator hat and my parent hat. . . and I really hope you’ll be able to join in as well.

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