Pep Talks for Parents and Pink Shirt Day

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Pep TalksIf you are anything like me, you have prayed for divine intervention, scratched your head in confusion, or even burst into tears in frustration at some point since becoming a parent. There are no easy answers as you know, but I am happy to share with you a great new parenting speakers series called Pep Talks to provide you with insight and inspiration:

March 7 – Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy
The media labeled Lenore Skenazy “America’s Worst Mom” when she let her 9-year-old ride the subway alone. She wore the badge with pride and went on to found Free-Range Kids: the book, blog and movement dedicated to the idea that our kids are SAFER and SMARTER than our culture gives them credit for. In this funny lecture (she used to write for Mad Magazine) Lenore discusses how today’s parents became so afraid about everything from predators to non-organic grapes (even if cut into quarters!), and how we can regain the perspective that allows us to trust our kids, our community and our own good-enough parenting.

April 10 – Parenting the Teenage Brain with Sheryl Feinstein
Dr. Sheryl Feinstein is Professor and Chair of the Education Department at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, USA. She is the author of the book,Secrets of the Teenage Brain (2nd Ed) (2009), which is a national and international best seller for Corwin Publishing. She has authored numerous other books including, Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (2009) Rowman & Littlefield Publisher; and The Brain and Strengths-Based School Leadership, Corwin (2011).

In 2007-2008, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Tanzania, where she spent the year teaching at Tumaini University in Iringa and conducting research involving adolescents. In Summer 2006 she was a fellow at Oxford, UK where she continued her research with adolescents.

Prior to joining the faculty of Augustana College, Sheryl was a Curriculum Coordinator for a K-12 school district in Minnesota and taught in the public schools. While working in Minnesota she helped establish an Alternative School for at-risk secondary students.

She frequently speaks nationally and internationally on the topic of Adolescence; however, she would proudly confirm that her greatest accomplishment is guiding her own four children through the teenage years.

May 15 – The Lost Art of Play: Helping Children Grow Up with Deborah MacNamara
Dr. Deborah MacNamara is a clinical counsellor and educator in private practice helping parents, teachers, and childcare professionals make sense of children and adolescents in their care. She has over 15 year’s experience as a teacher and counsellor in mental health and educational settings. Deborah is a dynamic presenter and writes on a number of parenting issues and has been published in parenting magazines and newsletters across Canada. She interned with Dr. Gordon Neufeld and is on faculty at the Neufeld Institute.

In this talk she discusses how play – at least the kind that builds brains and forwards development – is becoming an endangered activity among those who need to engage in it most. Part of the problem is the premature pressure on children to learn and to become socialized. Another factor is that play has increasingly become associated with a sport or a screen activity. Probably our most significant failing is our lack of collective understanding concerning the pivotal role of play in development. We have never known more about the value of play and at the same time, we have never been so in need of this knowledge. The importance of play has become eclipsed by the urgency surrounding children’s conduct and achievements.

June 12 – How to Raise Smart Kids in the New Millenium with Lisa Bloom
For women and girls today, it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times.  While girls shine in many areas (such as outperforming boys at every level of education, preschool through grad school — go team!); they have also lost focus and even regressed in some frightening ways.  Twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.  Twenty-three percent would rather lose their ability to read than their figures.  Nearly all the college women I interviewed could name more Kardashians than wars we’re in.  Today, we spend more time and money on cosmetics and plastic surgery than any other women in the world, and more than any other women in human history.

For boys, Bloom speaks about the negative cultural influences on our boys:  schools that are failing them, a jobless economy that prevents many from launching into adulthood, “thug culture” that teaches them that manhood is defined by emotional numbness, violence, and drug use.  But for parents, there is good news:  research-tested, parent-approved solutions to get our boys’ values straight, get them reading, improve their school’s performance, and send them into a successful adulthood.

In May 2011 Bloom’s book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World was published by Vanguard Press and in May of 2012, Bloom published Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness, and Thug Culture.

Pep Talks is presented by the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. All the events will take place at the Vancouver Playhouse from 7:30 – 9:00 pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Pink Shirt DayPink Shirt Day
Today is also Pink Shirt Day and I can’t let that go by without a nod to all the great work that is currently in progress to combat bullying and a prayer for all the children who have fallen victim to a bully. I was gratified to hear my son’s daycare class learning about bullying yesterday. I think starting to talk about this at such a young age is a great first step. Together we can stand up to bullies and end the cycle.


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2 thoughts on “Pep Talks for Parents and Pink Shirt Day

  1. Love the idea of free range kids!

    I’m originally from NY and we rode buses, subways etc etc all by ourselves, back and forth to school, every day. It taught us how to navigate subway systems and buses, how to get in touch with your gut instinct about who is approachable and who isn’t and how to be independent. It never occured to me or my sister or my peers that our parents were lazy! It was just normal!

    I think it’s abnormal to see a harried mother frantically careening into a school yard to drop off 10 yr old kids because they’re afriad of letting them ride the bus. Until this year I rode the bus as an adult back and forth to work for a decade and if I encountered a school aged kid on there I always kept an eye out for them, which is what you’re supposed to do as an adult member of the community. Never once did I have to step in for anything other than lending a quarter or picking up a dropped bag — because everyone on the bus was as respectful and mindful of the chidren’s safety as I was.

  2. I didn’t know it was pink shirt day today! Thanks for the update.

    I love the idea of free-range kids. As a parent we’re supposed to be raising our kids to be self-sufficient, but with the fear of “what could happen” it’s difficult to find the balance between proper protection and encouraging them to be able to stand alone.

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