INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - I have been thinking a great deal recently about the challenges of growing up today. This should come as no surprise, given my job as a Head of School; however even deeper thoughts than usual have been prompted by the book that I have been reading: "Raising Cain, Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys," by Michael Thompson and Dan Kindlon.
While I have never met Dan, Michael is an old friend of mine with whom I worked for many years in Virginia. He is an educational psychologist and author who has spent several decades assisting youngsters, their parents, and their teachers. He is a man of considerable humor and insight, and I long ago learned to listen closely to his observations and advice.
This Friday, all interested folks, parents and otherwise, are invited to join me in the Lake Tahoe School library from 8-9:30 a.m. for a book group discussion of "Raising Cain." Please join us for what promises to be a fascinating, interactive gathering.
My own experience with elementary and middle school children spans over four decades. It's fair to say that I have seen a great deal, yet there is always a new something to make me shake my head and wonder how kids manage to figure it all out "these days."
Our children remain a fascinating contradiction. In so many ways they are more sophisticated and mature than they have ever been. Many have traveled the world. At the same time, one of the reasons many families move to Incline is to safeguard their daughters and sons from "The Real World."
We are complex, we parents. We want our offspring to be prepared for that Real World, even as we want to protect them from it. In the meantime, we are not nearly as isolated here as we sometimes would like to think we are. Internet access and cable television bring the world to us at the flip of a (frequently silent) switch.
It is the job of us to help children navigate the path from Incline and our reasonably healthy and protected life to all that lies beyond. It is our responsibility to take the time to identify both the old temptations and pitfalls that confront our girls and boys as well as the new ones - the ones about which we have only limited knowledge.
Parents today seem to want to be in constant contact with their children, giving them cell phones at a very early age. From my perspective, that's not always a healthy connection for all kinds of reasons, although I respect the motivation to keep safe the ones we love. The fact is, few parents seem to sit down with their children and talk about the power and reach of cell phones used improperly.
They are mostly focused on such things as an approved call lists. Cyberspace can provide too many anonymous platforms for mischief. If you honestly recall your own middle and high school years, mischief-making was often in the cards. Take the time to talk to your children about cyberspace the same way you do about drugs. It will make a difference.
- Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.