College roommate issues, planning ahead for success

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for Fox Business News on 'how to handle bad college roommates' but I like for the discussion take a positive tack: how can you help your high school graduate son or daughter prepare for a successful first semester.
The interviewer Emily Driscoll was kind enough to give me the last word and it was this: “Having a sense for your own concerns and being able to express them, but also knowing that you don’t have to do it all and that you can get help is very important.”
The advice is true for anyone starting out in a new school or starting a new job, for that matter. Parents can help their children and their off-to-college, nearly grown young adult children by assuring and re-assuring them about the transition. As important as family support systems are - and we want our children to feel comfortable calling us, even from several states or half a world away - young people can and should take increasing responsibility for building their own network among friends and school staff. Parents' encouragement regarding seeking help in difficult situations can make a big difference.

Kids summer safety, more complicated than I remember

In the last week or so I have done several radio interviews on the topic of keeping kids safe in the summer time. The concerns parents have brought up - and reports from a pediatrician and beach patrol director who were on one of the shows with me - are beyond scary! Here is what I gleaned and I pass these notes along. The list is far from complete and I offer it as a starting point only. Please comment and add your wisdom:
= sun safety: even if kids are wearing protective clothing, parents or caregivers should still apply, and re-apply, sunscreen. watch for signs of overexposure and overheating.
= bring enough water for yourselves and the children: stay adequately hydrated. be aware that some metal water bottles have fabric on the inside of the spout and some kids have gotten their tongues caught inside. oh no!!  maybe pour water from the bottles into paper cups?!
= water safety: children should learn to swim as soon as parents think they are ready but still you need to watch the little ones _ all _ the _ time _ and, of course, swim only at pools and beaches with lifeguards.

Audiobook and eBook of our handbook coming soon!

In honor of International Day of Families (IDF) May 15th, we are happy to announce upcoming release of Where the Heart Listens: a handbook for parents and their allies (third edition) in audio and ebook formats. You can read sample chapters here under 'Where the Heart Listens' in English, Spanish and Chinese. Chapter One in French will be posted very soon!
Thursday May 12 I attended the United Nations IDF observance in New York and there was excellent turnout for the panel. Attendees included Amr Ghaleb, former UN Family Programme head, a good friend of many years.  Read the Secretary-General's statement for the day:


WICC 'Talk of the Town' May 16, 2011

Jim Buchanan, host of 'Talk of the Town' on WICC in Bridgeport CT, will interview me this coming Monday just after 4pm. Looks as if you can listen live at the station website: . His question is how parents can discuss, with their kids, the global events related to Osama bin Laden’s death. I have some ideas on that and we'll see what callers say! I am excited about this opportunity! 

Minnesota Teacher of the Year is a parenting educator

The National Parenting Education Network chair, Betty Cook, shared some great news this morning:
Katy Smith, just named Minnesota Teacher of the Year, is a parenting educator in the statewide public school Early Childhood Family Education program. This is the first time in the 47-year history of the award that a parenting educator has been selected.  See the Star Tribune story
As Betty Cook wrote: Congratulations, Katy! How great to receive this kind of recognition for someone in our field."  Yes!

Tiger Mother, note added

Interesting! Madame Liu Yandong, State Councilor of the People’s Republic of China and the highest-ranking woman in the Chinese government, paid a visit to MIT, where I work, Wednesday, April 13 (2011). I attended her talk, given as part of the China Forum, and was very pleased to hear her mention parenting. You can read the whole press release at the shortened link below.* This is an excerpt:

Babies learn through exploration

This is apparently breaking news, but parents know it, for heaven's sake. Now we can quote scientific research showing that 'teaching too much can stifle exploration.'  A Boston Globe article 3-28-2011 by Carolyn Y. Johnson... tells it all and quotes Alison Gopnik, Berkeley psychology researcher, 'there's tremendous pressure to make the environment for young children more and more academic...even something that looks like random, exploratory play can help children to learn and in some cases help them to learn better.'
I'm voting to let kids be kids!

Where the Heart Listens

The most amazing happy news . . .  Where the Heart Listens: a handbook for parents and their allies in a global society - the Parents Forum handbook - has won the Parent Tested Parent Approved PTPA Seal of Approval! Look here:

and see our bright red/orange cover image in the side-reading scroll of 'latest featured winners' mid-page. These are readers' testimonials:

= I think this book was a great read. Not only for moms but dads should read it too. Many people hide behind their children and come off as someone who is so overwhelmed in their life that people automatically assume they are not equipped to be a parent. I believe this book can help put those stressed families at ease and get back to being a family.

Charm School introduction text

Here is the text, what I said in the longer Jan.27 YouTube . . . 

We are here tonight to prepare for MIT’s Charm School.  You may think that MIT and charm don’t quite fit in the same sentence, but as a long time employee I can tell you that some engineers and even some theoretical physicists are quite charming. But some may need a little help and that’s why we are here.
I want to introduce a small part of the Parents Forum curriculum called
How To Tell Somebody Something They’d Rather Not Hear
Then I will give you a bit of background of Parents Forum.