Last week, Dr. Wendy Mogel contributed the final installment of this year's PTF Parent Up Speaker Series focused on community wellness and connection, in a conversation about communication and connection between parents and their children as they navigate their journey toward adulthood.
Dr. Mogel is a longtime trusted contributor to the Parent Up Speaker Series, speaking to St. Margaret’s parents for the third time. She is a clinical psychologist and New York Times
best-selling author of Voice Lessons for Parents
and The Blessing of a B Minus
, which addresses the challenge of parenting teenagers in a culture of increasing anxiety.
In a conversation with PTF Parent Up Chair Kristen Olosky, Dr. Mogel spoke in-depth about that topic to St. Margaret’s parents. She noted that students in high-achieving schools or from high-achieving families often struggle with expectations and stress, and gave tips on how to counter that pressure.
“The great paradox of privilege is that children look at their parents and say, ‘How could I ever possibly exceed the achievements of these people?’” Dr. Mogel said. “The American myth is that every generation is meant to surpass the last one, and they look around at the job market, at our leadership, at the economy, and they get demoralized and start to imagine that they need to be nearly perfect in almost every area.”
Dr. Mogel also spoke on a number of other parenting topics, including helping children become advocates for themselves and how to teach conflict resolution to children. She highlighted the importance of “familect,” the insider language of a family that fosters closeness and may include sweet nicknames and inside jokes. Dr. Mogel noted the importance of humor in families, likening it to a “spiritual air purifier,” and referenced how studies have shown humor to positively affect health and wellbeing.
Dr. Mogel also encouraged parents to move from a role of “manager” in their children’s lives to one of “consultant.” She offered examples of questions to ask children that help them identify and navigate their own solutions, including, “What is your goal in this situation?”, “What are you considering?”, and “What have you tried so far?”
At the end of the talk, Dr. Mogel revealed that she sent a survey to several St. Margaret’s Upper School students as she often does when speaking at schools. She asked a number of questions, including “What do your parents worry about that they don’t need to?” and “What should they worry about that they don’t?”
Students disclosed that they feel their parents worry about school work, grades, and their child’s judgement more than they need to, and they should instead worry more about their child’s stress level, mental health and sleep schedule.
“The answers were a microcosm of many schools I’ve spoken at,” Dr. Mogel said.
Dr. Mogel’s presentation can be viewed by clicking here
(password: smes) or by visiting the Parent Up Speaker Series Resource tile on mySMES. There is also a bonus video of an extended conversation between Dr. Mogel and Mrs. Olosky that can you view by clicking here
The Parent Up Speaker Series is funded through a generous PTF grant, and speakers are selected by PTF leaders in conjunction with St. Margaret’s school leaders. This year’s Parent Up Speaker Series committee includes PTF President Dana Melsom, Mrs. Olosky, Parent Up Speaker Series assistant Carrie Quintanar, St. Margaret’s Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem, Director of Equity and Inclusion Mr. Cota and PTF Office Manager Beth Adamany.