November 15, 2017
Many of you are about to have your teenager back in your home, possibly for the first time since August. Some particularly generous folks are even hosting teenagers who are not their own for the break, which we truly appreciate.
As part of our mission to educate the whole student, we have spent the fall helping your children think about the decisions they are making as they develop towards adulthood. I wanted to make you aware of a great quick talk by Dr. Lisa Damour that provides some insight into how to approach helping your teenager become an adult. First, Dr. Damour notes that we need to help students think not in terms of how to get away with things, but instead how to be focused on the real and sometimes dangerous consequences of one’s actions. She calls this “helping teenagers get better at risk assessment.” Dr. Damour gives a great example of how to approach a conversation about texting and driving. The goal is to help teenagers switch from the “I can get away with texting and driving,” to “I don’t want to text and drive because I put other people in danger.”
Second, Dr. Damour notes that we all have crazy spots — or our own hang ups and peccadillos. The point at which both parents and children understand our respective issues is a watershed moment when children shift from being children to becoming adults. This requires the development of empathy for you, as the parent and a person.
Third, Dr. Damour points to how helping children become adults is a team effort. We are thrilled to be working with your children on this growth period and appreciate the work you, too, are doing to support your children. Dr. Damour’s video can be found
A final thought, not from Dr. Damour but from me, has to do with the idea of a grace period. A product of boarding school myself, I knew that I had a couple of days once I returned home on break to have a grace period of sorts. My parents, just happy to have me around, may have let me get away with more than they might have otherwise. I share this mostly because the arrival of your child back to your home — whether she or he is a boarding or day student (as day students spend so much of their time here) — will cause a bit of a transition for your household. While I know in large part it will be a wonderful homecoming, I also know that transitions are often times when strange things happen. For example, we know that we sometimes see an increase in homesickness post-breaks, even from students who seemed well settled before the break.
All of this is to say that we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and trust that you will get lots of insights from your children about how their experience is unfolding at Taft. We have had a great fall — from the first bell to a great Spirit Week, Red Rally, and Hotchkiss Day. The return from break will be busy with exams and the short hop to the next break. As ever, I appreciate your feedback and questions.
Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.