Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Children deserve parents who think. They don’t need parents who are perfect, or who have all the answers. (What a burden that would be!  Please don’t saddle your kids with perfect parents- what a nightmare.)  But I think families really thrive when parents put some thought into carefully considering at least some of their day-to-day parenting choices, rather than letting chance or whims dictate the family’s direction. And it seems even more important that parents are willing to challenge their own thinking from time to time, and look at things from an entirely new point of view.  In parenting, mental effort counts for a lot.

These were my thoughts a few minutes ago, while driving home from tonight’s fascinating talk at my preschool by Po Bronson, the author of the best-selling book,  Nurture Shock.

Wow- Po Bronson speaking at Explorer Preschool!  What an event this was for a little school like ours.  We have been waiting breathlessly for Po’s visit since last summer when our Parent Ed. Chair-mom, Katie, somehow used her magical powers to persuade  him to speak at our school. And let me tell you:  it was worth the wait.  Po was amazing. Even with our break-time cookies calling to us from the other room,  and babysitters turning into pumpkins, no one  wanted his talk to end.

Some comments I heard from parents, and from the mentor teachers and college instructors that were also in attendance:

-How can he know so much, remember so much, and recall all that information so easily?

-He’s able to explain complicated concepts in a way that’s easy to understand. This is not the case with most people who are as brilliant as he is!

-How can he know so much, remember so much, and have all that information on the tip of his tongue?

-I feel good about my parenting after hearing him, even though I now think I need to make a couple of  changes. Some experts just make me feel like a crappy parent, and I don’t need that- I feel bad enough already about all my mistakes.

-He’s one of us!  He’s just a dad, and he understands what it’s like to be a parent like me.

-I can’t wait to read some of his other books and articles!

-He was so much fun to listen to—I lost track of time.

-Everything he said made me love our preschool even more.

-It’s hard to change your mind about things that you’ve always thought were right, but when Po explains why another viewpoint is better, it makes a lot of sense to me.

-I’m going to ask my spouse to read this.  And I think I’ll buy a copy for my nanny too.

-This is giving me a lot to think about.

-I really hope he continues writing about child development topics.

-He really cares about this stuff, and it shows.

We can’t all have a Po-chip implanted in our brains, ready to call up and analyze the research data to make sure that our every decision is right. In fact, I’ll bet that even Po finds that chip a little hard to access at times. (Maybe we should discuss this with his wife….!)  But most of us can think about what he talked about tonight, read or re-read Nurture Shock, and maybe discuss it with friends at our Aprll Book Club evening.  That’s perfectly good enough. Just a little  thoughtful effort can help us all be better parents and teachers.