A morning with Madeline Levine

This morning I attended the Bainbridge Coalition for Youth and Parents Fall Forum, where Madeline Levine was the keynote speaker. She was a fantastic public speaker, relaxed, engaged, funny, full of information and stories.

Her book, The Price of Privilege, is in its 15th printing in 15 months. Obviously, the topic is one that strikes a chord among many, and though I haven’t yet read her book, it’s one I recommend based on the strength of her address this morning. Here are a few notes I took:

–The face of depression in kids has changed—no longer is there a neglect of image; contrary to older DSM descriptions of depression, depressed kids are likely to be very aware of external appearance.

–She is opposed to AP courses, because they are too often taught to the test and play into the tremendously destructive levels of pressure put on teens.

–She is opposed to sports that involve traveling teams because they fracture families, often require a huge time commitment from the child or adolescent, and teach kids that a parent’s role is to drive their kid around and spend a huge chunk of time sitting and observing child’s play.

–Find ways to adore the child in front of you; the most important thing parents can do is to love their children for who they are.

–Be an inviting, listening presence. “Real learning is about effort and improvement.”

–She is opposed to publishing the honor roll (and grades) in the local paper, opposed to publishing where graduating seniors are going to college.

She champions and articulates the kind of change we need. While I am distressed by the trends and statistics Dr. Levine addresses, I’m encouraged by her message that good parenting can happen anywhere, that involvement and unconditional love are what is needed above all.

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