Homesick and Happy

Michael Thompson and Summer Camp

Dr. Michael Thompson is one of the leading experts in Youth Development. He has written 7 books on youth, including the New York Times bestseller “Raising Cain,” which was made into a special on PBS and led to appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America and Oprah.

His most recent work is called “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child.” It is the best book I have read about the benefits of summer camp for children.

Dr. Thompson has a wonderful sense of humor and a deep appreciation for parents. He is deeply sympathetic to the challenges of parenting and strives to help parents raise the best children they can.

Early in “Homesick and Happy” he makes an interesting observation. He notes that whenever parents ask for advice, they always ask some version of the same question: “what else should I be doing?” He notes that parents always assume that they should be doing more for their child. He, however, notes that children can benefit in important ways from parents occasionally doing less.

For example, if parents want their children to learn to deal with challenges and the occasional failure, they must be willing to let their children occasionally struggle and fail.

Specifically, he describes 8 things “that parents cannot do for their children.” I know this list has informed our thoughts about our own children.

  1. We cannot make our children happy.
  2. We cannot give our children high self-esteem.
  3. We cannot make friends for our children or micromanage their friendships.
  4. We cannot successfully double as our child’s agent, manager or coach.
  5. We cannot create the “second family” for which our child yearns in order to facilitate his or her growth.
  6. It is increasingly apparent that we cannot compete with or limit our children’s total immersion in the online, digital and social media realms.
  7. We cannot keep our children perfectly safe, but we can drive them crazy trying.
  8. We cannot make our children independent.

These are important parenting goals, but we parents cannot control them. We need partners that love our children and share our goals.

We at American Seafarers want to be your partner in this wonderful challenge. Please feel free to call us with any questions about how attending American Seafarers on one of our voyages helps facilitate the growth of your child!