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February 27, 2015

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Child psychologist helps parents overcome anxiety in decision-making

Author Michael Thompson takes conversational approach in workshop


Steve Marcus

Francesca Bodner asks a question to child psychologist and author Michael Thompson during a free parenting workshop at the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013.

Parent Workshop With Child Psychologist Michael Thompson

Child psychologist and author Michael Thompson, right, laughs as he questions Justin Mosher, 10, (2nd left) during a free parenting workshop at the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin Sunday, January 13, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Before participating in renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson’s parenting workshop Sunday, Lisa Larian was worried about a decision she made.

She wondered whether she made a mistake moving to Las Vegas from Los Angeles so her daughter could enroll in a private school. Her husband remained in Los Angeles, so she and their five children spend time living in both cities. She feared the move would hurt their development.

“I just wanted to make sure we are doing the right thing with the decisions we made,” Larian said.

Larian was one of about 70 parents seeking guidance at Thompson’s workshop on developing a parenting philosophy at the Adelson Educational Campus.

Paul Schiffman, head of school of the campus, said the goal of the workshops is to create educated discussions among Las Vegas Valley parents on how best to tackle parenting’s most difficult conundrums.

“We’re bringing to Las Vegas an internationally recognized child expert,” Schiffman said. “He brings talking points and gives (parents) reading material, and they leave here with something to think about.”

For many of the parents, this was not the first time they attended one of Thompson’s lectures. This was the fourth year the author of nine parenting books has offered his advice at the school. Michael and Kristy Hall said Thompson's previous workshop on developing a child’s independence had such a profound impact on their parenting that their 6-year-old son knows about the psychologist.

“When we brought up the fact that we were going to see (Thompson) again, our child said, ‘He sounds like a really smart man,’” Kristy Hall said.

This year, the workshop focused on the anxieties parents face as they try to figure out what is best for their child — a issue unique to this generation of parents, Thompson said. He took a conversational approach, presenting the parents with parenting dilemmas.

He described a Canadian father’s struggle to determine how much to push his 11-year-old son in hockey after he proved to be talented. He talked about a mother wanting to know how far to push her children into activities to build their college resumes and discussed an intelligent teenager unhappy with his private school.

Each story was specific to an anonymous family, but their overarching dilemmas were universal: how to decide what is best for the child. The discussion prompted parents to reflect on how they might react and compare that to their own situations. Later, Thompson counseled parents on their own conundrums.

“I just wanted to reassure parents that they are not alone in this struggle,” Thompson said. “And to just think through things.”

The Halls said they felt reassured that they were making the right decisions in raising their son. Ben and June Staniger, who have four children ranging in age from 23 to 6, said the lecture taught them how to communicate better with their children.

The workshop “will help quite a bit,” Ben Staniger said. “I thought it was very enlightening and thought-provoking.”

Larian said her concerns were appeased. She realized her children can still live a fulfilled life with the decision she had made to move to Las Vegas. Still, Larian knows her learning as a parent is never over.

“There’s no perfect parent, but we can only do our best,” Larian said. “... It’s good to educate yourself, no matter how old you are.”

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  1. A parent is a child's first and lifelong teacher. This workshop is a fabulous way for parents to reach out and get sounding boards for helping them through the sometimes uncomfortable part of parenting: decision-making for the good of their child(ren).

    BRAVO for the Adelson Educational Campus bringing in such experts as child psychologist Michael Thompson for our community!

    Blessings and Peace,

  2. Wow! I'm really glad my parents didn't need validation from an expert when dealing with the "uncomfortable part of parenting". Maybe that's why I've been able to stand on my own two feet for all my life.

  3. You got to be kidding me??? Mmmmmm....seems like NONE of these parents should have become parents in the first place (antigov - you are so right). What did they think was going to happen when the kids were born and started to grow up? These parents are actually harming their kids by GOING to these workshops. They are the parents - THEY should make the decisions, sometimes they are not the best decisions but those decisions will never be bad decisions. I remember when my parents sold our home in the City and moved me to the suburbs and enrolled me in a public high school after going to Catholic school all my life. They also were taking me away from all my friends and the City I loved. To a 15 year old, my world was on the brink of ending!! I begged, pleaded, cried, threw tantrums to change their mind but they didn't give an inch. I hated them at first....and they felt really guilty for a long time, but then I realized it wasn't so bad after all. I met new friends, learned new things and broadened my horizons but as soon as I graduated, I got a good job - and then moved back to the City!! My parents didn't go running to some "expert" to see if they made the right decision. After all - they were THE parents and I was the child so you do what your parents say.

  4. Some of these comments are rather harsh and judgemental. As a professional educator, with countless conferences with children, parents, and families, one wishes many times, as Commenter Antigov stated, "They should have sought advice on raising children before they had children." That would lessen the need for much guidance in their future in many cases. We all know it doesn't happen that way. Furthermore, the journalist probably had to carefully choose issues to publish due to privacy and confidentiality, so these examples simply scratch the surface. It takes courage to admit you are experiencing a problem that is creating issues in your life, so these parents are to be commended.

    The point is, to encourage those who are experiencing a real crisis, to seek professional help when their comfort levels have been significantly disrupted. The Las Vegas Valley has been flooded with families who are in such a state due to loss of homes, jobs, divorces, deaths, abuse, and so on. When people feel isolated and desparate, they behave in way that is often counter-productive, and this goes for the children and adults. The effects can be devastating.

    As some here commented, personal situations vary. Maybe you are the type of neighbor, friend, coworker, or family member who is able to listen and share, making a difference in another person,who is in a life crisis. But what about those folks who are so distraught, so alienated, that they tried everything and are at the ends of their rope? Or worse, they are here in this community and have no one?

    Not everyone has insurance for medical and mental health care. So in my book, anytime someone is offering to the public a FREE service, and a person who needs it can utilize it, it is a win-win. There is great need on the east side of the valley, not just Summerlin. But this is a great opportunity open for those who can take advantage of the offer and I appreciate the good work of those in the mental health profession.

    Blessings and Peace,