Little did I realize that months ago I made a commitment to go to an event at Rockefeller University.  I figured out that we were going last week and gasped when it hit me we were moving too.  But, we are good friends and went anyway.  I'm glad we did.  We also had the privilege of dining at the President's home which is one of the most spectacular homes in an amazing location. 

I have known about the events put on by Rockefeller University since our friend became involved. Every quarter they put on an event related to Parents and Science.  Some past topics have been about autism, how children acquire language, etc.  Last nights topic was A Parents Guide to Boys and Girls, How Hormones Shape the Brain and Influence Behavior.

There were two speakers and then a small panel with the two of them moderated by the President of Rockefeller University, Paul Nurse.  Margaret McCarthy who is one of the leading scientists in cellular differences between men and women was not only charming but hilarious and brilliant.  The other speaker was Michael Thompson who is a leading child psychologist specializing in children and families.  He was also engaging and clever.

If you were all wondering if I had any revelations after hearing both of them speak, the answer is no. What I did learn is that all my instincts have told me over the years about the differences between boys and girls and being a parent were spot on.  They confirmed my common sense.

Boys are physical.  Cutting back on recess in school has had tremendous side effects on the ability for boys to focus in school.  They are competitive.  If they are not able to engage in school because they are fidgety due to lack of recess where they can expend their energy, boys ends up just checking out.  Boys take in information different than girls.  Thompson spoke about an all boys school where they have 3 recesses a day where boys are excelling in school.  Years ago, many years ago, all schools had 2 – 3 recesses a day.  Girls are now are killing it in school and leaving the boys behind.  All of these reasons can be factors.  From a scientific point of view, it confirms what Thompson has viewed as a psychologist.  Having 85% of the boys in school be labeled at ADD has to point to something else.  Medicating kids so that it is easier in the classroom is not the answer.  McCarthy made a very funny comment.  If we were a room of baboons, the male baboons would be fighting and mauling each other over getting to the female baboons that were ovulating.  McCarthy said the key to our existence is that women keep the fact that they are ovulating a secret. 

One of the things that I liked about both of the speakers is that they both had children and it was interesting to see how they talked about raising kids.  Bottom line, embrace your child for who they are.  Don't try and change them.  If they are boys and they fight, let them fight outside and in another room.  If there is sibling rivalry, of course there is, let them figure it out.  In essence, stop being hovering helicopter parents and let kids be kids.  Let them go outside and play, let them make their own decisions, stop over planning their lives, let them navigate the world with you as a guide but don't try and change who they are. 

So, as I said, I didn't learn anything new but confirmed that common sense works. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Lauren Sabet

    Thanks for the post, Joanne. Great to hear an experienced mother’s point of view on this subject!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks Lauren.

  2. Jill Stern

    I was signed up for this speech as well and did not make it. I like him and have heard him speak before. Glad to hear I did not miss much. BTW: physical activity daily was a major reason we picked Poly Prep for our boy.

    1. Gotham Gal

      He was really great. I wish more people would take his advice.

  3. Rebecca

    I allow a lot of run around play time at my camp.Have you seen this?Teaching Your Kids to be Entrepreneurs…

    1. Gotham Gal

      Have not. I will take a look.

  4. Diana

    Jo — Agree with your comments and so glad you were able to attend these wonderful presentations. Don’t forget that girls need recess, too!

    1. Gotham Gal