Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow Paperback – 1 May 2012
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"Every parent dreads letting children go. Partly, we dread it because we lack a clear roadmap of how and when to do it. "Homesick and Happy" changes that. It is a powerful and very accessible book that helps build maturity and resilience in our children--and also in parents, as well!"--Michael Gurian, author of "The Wonder of Boys "and "The Wonder of Girls"
"With a deep understanding, a great sense of humor, and impeccable resources, Michael Thompson succeeds brilliantly in generating just a touch of envy in the hearts of all those parents who read "Homesick and Happy" . . . for the great fun their kids are going to have."--Harriet Lowe, editor in chief, "Camping "magazine
"Thompson pours his heart into these pages, along with his unsurpassed wisdom about children and their parents. Full of practical advice and unforgettable anecdotes, this book is an instant classic."--Edward Hallowell, MD, author of "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness"
"With his usual compassion and warmth, Thompson helps parents let go of the imagined dangers that feed our anxieties, and avoid the real dangers of holding on to our children too tightly."--Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, author of "Playful Parenting"
"Michael Thompson is back with a compelling argument for the brawn and bonds that only camp can give a child. You'll be signing her up before you make it through the first chapter."--Rachel Simmons, former director of Girls Leadership Institute Summer Camp and author of "The Curse of the Good Girl"
Every parent dreads letting children go. Partly, we dread it because we lack a clear roadmap of how and when to do it. "Homesick and Happy" changes that. It is a powerful and very accessible book that helps build maturity and resilience in our children and also in parents, as well! Michael Gurian, author of "The Wonder of Boys "and "The Wonder of Girls"
With a deep understanding, a great sense of humor, and impeccable resources, Michael Thompson succeeds brilliantly in generating just a touch of envy in the hearts of all those parents who read "Homesick and Happy" . . . for the great fun their kids are going to have. Harriet Lowe, editor in chief, "Camping "magazine
Thompson pours his heart into these pages, along with his unsurpassed wisdom about children and their parents. Full of practical advice and unforgettable anecdotes, this book is an instant classic. Edward Hallowell, MD, author of "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness"
With his usual compassion and warmth, Thompson helps parents let go of the imagined dangers that feed our anxieties, and avoid the real dangers of holding on to our children too tightly. Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, author of "Playful Parenting"
Michael Thompson is back with a compelling argument for the brawn and bonds that only camp can give a child. You ll be signing her up before you make it through the first chapter. Rachel Simmons, former director of Girls Leadership Institute Summer Camp and author of "The Curse of the Good Girl""
About the Author
Michael Thompson, PhD, is the author or co-author of eight books, including the bestselling "Raising Cain." A consulting school psychologist and popular school speaker, he is also a former board member of the American Camp Association. The father of two, he lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife.
Top Customer Reviews
I've been fortunate enough to hear Michael Thompson speak on a couple of occasions. "Homesick and Happy" is a thoroughly engaging, hopeful look at what happens when kids have the opportunity to practice being independent. This is an essential part of growing up.
Having suffered from severe homesickness in my own childhood, this book gave me a lot of ideas about how it happened, what it meant, and what I might be able to do for a child now that the tables are turned and I am a teacher who takes students on trips.
Children change while they are away from home--and this is as it should be. This book offers parents a new perspective on their role in the transitions their children need to make, necessarily away from them. His advice is practical and wise; and applies to everything from summer camp, to school trips, to seeing a 19-year-old through the first year of college. I am delighted to have discovered this book, and eager to recommend it to anyone who has an interest in helping children grow up healthy, happy, resilient, and confident.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Part of Thompson's message here is that children today are having fewer and fewer opportunities to be on their own, away from well-meaning parents. That means they are having a harder time developing the self-confidence and independence that is so important as they grow up. Too often, Thompson says, parents are doing too much for their children, in the name of "good parenting." We want our children to be happy and confident, to be safe, to have friends, to do well in school, and to be independent people. But these are the very things parents cannot do for their children. Summer sleepover camp, says Thompson, can help children develop these things on their own.
The book provides a number of detailed stories about children who have attended a wide variety of camps, including a long section on homesickness. This is probably the scariest thing about camp, not only for the children who will be suffering from it (almost all children do, Thompson says), but also for the parents who have to receive those horrible letters ("Mom, I HATE it here! Come get me!"). Thompson sees homesickness as a very painful but necessary part of the process of separation - by mastering homesickness, children learn what they're truly capable of. This is the beginning to real independence and confidence.
Thompson is the author of several well-known books on children and parenting (I've read THE PRESSURED CHILD and RAISING CAIN), and he knows his stuff. I had the privilege of attending one of his workshops a few years ago, and I found him to be an excellent speaker who was quickly able to engage his audience. It's the same with HOMESICK AND HAPPY. I have to add that my own camping experiences were not good ones, and I'm still not quite sure why. The many wonderful things Thompson writes about camp in this book made me feel a little disappointed in myself, as if I missed the opportunity to form the lasting friendships and memories that the children in the book have had. I will say only that as a very quiet, introverted child I wasn't as open to the group activities (or the lack of privacy and alone time) that are inherent in summer camps. This isn't addressed in the book.
This is an excellent book for protective parents to read, as it highlights how important it is to let children take steps away from the nest. That's a valuable lesson for all of us.
The material in Homesick and Happy might be very difficult for parents to accept, especially when the world can seem more dangerous or scary than ever. Newspaper headlines focus on the worst case situations and yes, they can be gruesome and horrifying. As a result, the instinctive reaction may be to hover, to remain ever more vigilant and to stay close to one's child at all times.
But sooner or later, children mature and will have to navigate life when parents aren't around. Homesick and Happy provides guidelines on how to let children do exactly this by starting with trips away from home. Thompson provides helpful tips on alleviating anxieties - for both children AND parents (often, it is rougher on the parents than the kids).
Thompson describes how children are spending summers focused on academics instead of taking a break from school. Perhaps this is because parents worry about how to keep their kids competitive and believe that studying for hours daily - even in the summer - helps their children stay on top.
But what about opportunities for imaginative play and creativity? What about being part of a community that doesn't include parents...just for awhile? According to Thompson, these moments are special and may be disappearing for many children. Structured summers at home could not only be a path to burnout but actually limit the social skills and overall competence to handle life later on.
While a major part of Homesick and Happy covers camp experiences, there is also a nod given to other experiences, from flying across country to solitary walks to school. But most information in the book comes from Thompson's visits to camps, interviews with campers, eating meals, and sitting around campfires.
Don't expect to find much material on rigidly structured sports or other camps. This isn't that type of book. The camps described are less organized, with opportunities to simply hang out, listen to music, play games, hike, read, and make new friends. Some kids can even "start over" in a new environment as they experiment with different ways of building friendships and learning skills.
Again and again, Thompson reinforces the point that fewer children go to camp these days but instead spend summers being over-scheduled and stressed. Perhaps (what a novel and neglected concept) children and parents need to revisit a page from the past instead of discarding what seems old-fashioned and quaint. Kids with long days of relatively unscheduled time and the opportunity to take risks and make new friends on their own terms could gain benefits which surpass time spent at home.
So why not have children stretch their boundaries with parents at their side - rather than at camp? Thompson makes the very convincing case that children need to find their own way - starting with short - and then longer - trips apart from parents. This way, children can test their limits and find unique paths towards adulthood.
Will they feel uncomfortable, homesick or nervous at first? It is entirely possible. But parents who provide the right guidance and support can help their kids feel more confident in the long run.
We may want to protect our children from everything and keep them close to us. However, this book - through the author's extensive study of children at summer camp - helps parents to see that there is a balance to be struck. When children are away from their parents, even when they are homesick, they grow and learn in ways that they can never do under their parents watchful eye.
The book provides a list of skills that children can only learn when they are away from home - skills parents alone cannot teach them. There are many case studies of children at camp and their personal experiences. There are suggestions for helping children conquer homesickness, and tips for parents who are missing their children when they are apart.
This was an interesting book, and a good reminder for parents who have to strike a difficult balance - between holding their children close and learning how to let go at the right times.
"..., the thought of sending your 'little ones' off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming--for you and for them. But parents' first instinct -- to shelter their offspring above all else -- is actually depriving kids of the major developmental milestones that occur through letting them go -- and watching them come back transformed." --Michael G. Thompson
Parents tend to over-protect their children, especially mothers, by keeping them close to family and home. However, child psychologist Michael Thompson, wrote this book to help parents to develop a healthy timely detachment plan. Through his professional study on children attending summer camps otherwise, he came to different conclusions. Book's mission is to advocate assertively that those children sent away from their parents, grow faster and learn in ways unattained when tied to mom's apron, even when feeling occasionally homesick.
Dr. Thompson's argument is supplemented with an elaborate guide to, this plan of scheduled brief vacations that develop ties loosening. He explains how camp prepare young children into a rich world, with a diversified environment that has only to be experienced in person. As a great believer of summer camp, I gradually inserted in their long boring summers. While at home such experiences can be available: PC game-free zone, an independent community, enjoying noisy group meals and camp hang-ups, where time has its own tempo.
In woods, and around lakes, enjoying canoeing and some adventures, youngsters have significant social and emotional growth, that help character-building; creating lifelong memories and dear friendships. Thompson shows how children who are away from their parents can be both homesick and happy, scared and successful, anxious and exuberant. When kids go to camp, for a week, a month, or the whole summer, they can experience some of the greatest enhanced maturation of their lives, and return more independent, experienced, and healthy.
The book narrates a number of stories about children attending a variety of camps, with an elaborate account on homesickness, suffered by children and their remotely separated parents who has to show their children they're capable of standing the separation pain. The book gives a list of skills that children can only acquire when they are away from Parents. It also addresses the need to allow their children to grow and mature, so when time comes, it will be easier to let them go, summer camps have enabled them to develop indispensable life skills.
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