Episode Show Notes
In this episode, Mike sits down with Sissy Goff and David Thomas, child and adolescent development experts to talk about the differences between raising boys and girls, increased anxiety in children, and how parents can help.
Mike Siciliano, Upper School Dean of Students, has a long history with Sante Fe Christian, sitting in several roles including alumnus, US history teacher, and football coach. As a student, Siciliano felt he had teachers and coaches who personally invested in him and made a huge difference in his life. Now, he tries every day to continue that legacy for current SFC students, live up to the standard his teachers set for him, and have a lot of fun.
Sissy Goff, M.Ed., LPC-MHSP is the Director of Child and Adolescent Counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville, Tennessee, where she works alongside her counseling assistant/pet therapist, Lucy the Havanese. Since 1993, she has been helping girls and their parents find confidence in who they are and hope in who God is making them to be, both as individuals and families. Sissy is a sought-after speaker for parenting events and the author of twelve books, including the bestselling Raising Worry-Free Girls and Braver, Stronger, Smarter (for elementary-aged girls) and her new release for teenage girls, Brave. Sissy is a regular contributor to various podcasts and publications as well as her own podcast called Raising Boys and Girls.
David Thomas, L.M.S.W., is the Director of Family Counseling at Daystar Counseling in Nashville, TN, the co-author of eight books, including the best-selling Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys and Are My Kids on Track? The 12 Emotional, Social & Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach. He is a frequent guest on national television and podcasts, including his own called Raising Boys and Girls, has been featured in publications like The Washington Post and USA Today, and speaks across the country. He and his wife, Connie, have a daughter, twin sons and a yellow lab named Owen.
00:00:00 – Introductions
00:02:54 – Books recently published by the guests
00:05:31 – The difference between raising boys or girls
00:13:12 – How to respond to accusations of stereotyping boys or girls
00:16:39 – How the age of anxiety onset has changed over time
00:18:42 – Reasons for increased anxiety in children
00:20:17 – How parents can inadvertently cause more anxiety or pressure
00:24:12 – How parents and schools can build imagination about life choices which may help relieve anxiety or pressure
00:27:37 – How resistance or hesitance to seek mental health counseling has changed
Mike Siciliano [00:00:07] Welcome back to another episode of our Eagle Perspective Podcast. I’m Mike Siciliano, Dean of Students of the Upper School. We have a real treat today. I am joined by some experts in child and adolescent development, Sissy Goff and David Thomas. Welcome to you both.
Sissy Goff [00:00:21] Thank you for having us.
David Thomas [00:00:22] Thanks for having us.
Mike Siciliano [00:00:23] It’s a real pleasure. I know you’ve spent a couple days in our community. All I’m hearing, including from my wife, who texted me earlier today with seven pages of notes from your talk with some of our parents.
Sissy Goff [00:00:36] I thought you were going to say all you’ve been hearing is how we’ve been eating tacos, because we’ve tried to eat every taco in your city.
Mike Siciliano [00:00:42] Well, we’d be disappointed if you weren’t. It’s our defining food here. Do you have a favorite yet, favorite place?
Sissy Goff [00:00:49] I do. I love City Tacos. I love their fish tacos there. That’s maybe a highlight for me so far. Do you have one?
David Thomas [00:00:54] The surf and turf was great there.
Mike Siciliano [00:00:56] I can’t go wrong with the surf and turf. It’s pretty good.
David Thomas [00:00:59] We’ve not had a bad taco in your city. We may want to talk about a real estate agent before we end. We’re just going to relocate.
Mike Siciliano [00:01:03] There’s a couple that might be listening right now, actually. We’ll get you connected.
David Thomas [00:01:08] Get me some numbers.
Mike Siciliano [00:01:09] You are from Nashville. Can you introduce yourself a little bit, just your backgrounds, some of your published work, and also maybe a little bit about what you do with schools and with kids?
Sissy Goff [00:01:20] Yes. I have been counseling girls primarily, and families, at Daystar since 1993 when I did my internship through graduate school. I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas, and had moved to Nashville to go to Vanderbilt for grad school, and did an internship at Daystar. I met with our dear friend and boss and was teary in my whole interview and thought, “I didn’t know a place like this existed.” I have been stuck now since 1993. I don’t even know how many years that is—28 years later. At Daystar we have individual counseling, group counseling, and then, we have a little summer retreat program that I’m the director of. I also run two groups a week, adolescent girls. Somewhere along the way, we started writing books, which was a fun extension of what we do, too. I think at this point I’m working on my 13th book currently. Woke up really early, because my body thought it was Tennessee and was writing this morning. My last three, in particular, as well as this one, I feel really grateful. I think God prompted me pre-pandemic with just what I was seeing so much that we can obviously talk a lot more about, girls and anxiety. I wrote one. Actually, we had a publisher who came to me and said, “I read that you talked about eight being the average age of onset of anxiety. Would you write a book for eight-year-old girls?” My response was probably, “I think we’re all pretty like-minded. Only if I can write one for parents, too.” Because it’s not just a problem for the child.
Mike Siciliano [00:02:54] Absolutely. There’s so much that I’m already connecting with what you’re saying. I’m the father of a six-year-old girl and a three-year-old girl. We’re just getting there, which is why my wife took seven pages of notes earlier today. What are some of the books that you’ve read? Excuse me. Let me say that over again. What are some of the books that you’ve published already?
Sissy Goff [00:03:14] Raising Worry-Free Girls would be my most recent for parents. Then I wrote a little workbook for elementary-age girls called Braver, Stronger, Smarter that was so fun to write. That was pre-pandemic, and then we hit this pandemic and Zoom counseling. All of a sudden, the population I was most worried about were the teenagers. I have never done this, but in six weeks I wrote a book for teenage girls because I just wanted to get them some truth. I wrote a book called Brave. Those have been my most recent three.
Mike Siciliano [00:03:44] You said God prompted you with one and then gave you a pandemic so you’d have lots of time to work on it. David, what about you?
David Thomas [00:03:53] I have been at Daystar for 25 years now. Came to Daystar through knowing this amazing lady, my friend Sissy Goff. We connected. I had really respected the work she and the team had been doing at Daystar. We met to have lunch so I could hear more about it. She said, “Oh, by the way, would you want to interview while you’re here?”
Sissy Goff [00:04:13] No, no, no.
David Thomas [00:04:15] Wait. That’s not how it happened?
Sissy Goff [00:04:16] No. David, you said, “I’d really love to work at Daystar,” and I said, “I’m sorry. We’re not hiring.”
Mike Siciliano [00:04:21] Those are two very different stories.
Sissy Goff [00:04:23] I know.
David Thomas [00:04:24] That’s not how it went in my mind.
Sissy Goff [00:04:26] Sorry. You painted me better. I went back to our boss, and she said, “Sissy, he sounds awesome. Of course, we might be hiring. Well, you call him back.”
David Thomas [00:04:32] I need to give Melissa all the credit, not you.
Sissy Goff [00:04:36] You need to give Melissa the credit, not me.
David Thomas [00:04:36] Well, I’m thankful that conversation happened because it meant I would end up in this amazing place working with incredible people. The focus of a lot of my work over the years has been with boys and adolescent young men and their families. My official title now is the Director of Family Counseling. I do a lot of work… We both do a lot of work with parents. We do parent consultations, which is a bit like a well visit with a pediatrician, where we just sit down with parents who are asking a lot of questions of is this normal; does this sound right to you; should we be concerned about this? We love having that opportunity with parents in our office. We love the gift we’ve been given to travel and be in amazing places like this school and intersect with parents, and just talk about the stages of development and things that are happening with kids in different moments that I think can make the journey of parenting feel less overwhelming. That’s a great hope for us.
Mike Siciliano [00:05:31] Well, we’re really lucky to have you both here. Thank you again for coming. Let’s get into some of those issues. We have more of a focus on boys, more of a focus on girls. This might seem like a really silly question. What’s the difference between raising boys and raising girls and some of their challenges? Maybe speak to a little bit what you’re seeing.
David Thomas [00:05:51] There are some significant differences. I think understanding those really affects the whole equation, not just how we parent them, how we teach to them, how we coach them, how we discipline them, how we engage with them. When we teach together on boy and girl development, we go back and forth and walk through different stages of development. The girl stage has come from a great book Sissy and Melissa wrote together called Raising Girls and a book that I co-authored called Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. One of the big differences would be that Sissy and Melissa could cover all of girl development in four chapters, birth through adolescence. I had to add a fifth chapter on, because most developmental theorists agree that boys don’t even finish adolescence until somewhere around 23 to 25, and for girls, it’s 19 to 20. That’s an enormous space. That’s a five- to six-year difference. That means if we’re really evaluating all of what we see with boys with that timeline in mind, I think we adjust and modify a lot of things. I think we send boys out into the world at 18 and say, “Go be a grown-up.” He’s not done with adolescence. I think all of those differences allow us to think differently and more intentionally, strategically about how we do all of life with them. What would you add to that?
Sissy Goff [00:07:18] Well, yes. I feel like there’s so many things you talk about with boys. It’s fun to go back and forth like we do, because David says so many things that I think, “Really? That’s what they’re doing that? and I think there’s so much we could talk about from a brain chemistry standpoint that is profoundly different from their earliest stages. I’ll throw out a few things, and then you jump in with some things about boys. You would say boys are hardwired for…
David Thomas [00:07:44] Activity and movement.
Sissy Goff [00:07:46] Yes. I think girls are hardwired to connect and to define themselves against this backdrop of relationship, which you experience at your house, from their earliest stages. There are fascinating things going on. One is the occipital lobe region of a girl’s brain is more developed than a little boy’s her same age, which takes in sensory data. I came across a study that I love that talked about… It actually compiled 100 different studies, and it said girls are better at reading emotions from facial expressions than boys. Earliest stages, girls actually prefer faces, whereas boys prefer mobiles because mobiles are moving like we’re talking about. Girls excel at eye contact as newborns. Girls are more attuned to human voices and actually prefer them to other sounds. Girls start talking a month earlier and have a larger vocabulary. Typically, by the age of about 16 months, girls will have 100 words, and boys will have about 30. It never really stops for girls. Just keeps going, like your life probably with all your…
Mike Siciliano [00:08:51] Yeah. Also, I’m learning that we wasted money on the mobiles over the girls’ beds. I wish I’d known this years ago.
Sissy Goff [00:08:58] There’s a takeaway. So sorry. Girls are more imitative in their play. They’re mirroring; they’re interactive. All of that is really dictated by their brain development. They also have more oxytocin being secreted in their brains, which is considered the nurturing hormone, which is why… We have a friend who has a really interesting story. She got married at 40, started having children by the time she was 46. She had six kids, and she had one set of multiples. When her toddler-age son was sent to timeout… Wired for activity and movement, he was sent to timeout regularly. Her daughter would take him snacks because she was worried about him. She was nurturing. She wanted to take care of him. It’s hardwired into who these little girls are. Those things are all a significant part from their earliest stages some of the differences in girls and boys. What would you add?
David Thomas [00:09:49] I would only add to that great information on brain development that I talk about how boys have three strikes against them from the time the gun is fired and the race begins. Strike one would be that the female brain secretes more serotonin, which is directly related to impulse control. She has these advanced abilities to regulate herself differently than he can. Strike two is that a little girl’s frontal lobes grow at an earlier stage and are generally more active. Our frontal lobes inform a lot of things, our executive decisions being one. I say in summary it’s why girls tend to think first and then act second, which I think we’d all agree is a very logical series of events. Boys tend to do the opposite, acting first, then thinking, sometimes on the way to the ER, “Maybe I shouldn’t have ridden my bike off that ramp or jumped from that place.” I love sharing things like that because that’s a great example right there of how it allows us to think more intentionally. I think if we sum up all of that information… I sometimes think about the classic scenario of mom is in the kitchen cooking; she hears crying or screaming from another room; she walks into that space; it’s her daughter; she’s pointing her finger at her brother and saying, “He pushed me.” We look at the boys we love, I think, a lot in life and say, “What were you thinking?” Based on what I just shared…
Mike Siciliano [00:11:15] They weren’t.
David Thomas [00:11:16] Exactly. He may not have started thinking…
Mike Siciliano [00:11:19] “Was I supposed to be thinking?”
David Thomas [00:11:20] “Was I?” I think my challenge there would be let’s consider throwing that question out. I don’t think bombarding boys with a question of, “What were you thinking? What were you thinking? What were you thinking?” throughout development is so useful a way to engage him, because in a lot of moments he was just getting from point A to point B. Wasn’t thinking. In that moment maybe he just needed to move his sister out of the way and keep going. I think there’s a better way to engage him, a better way to connect with him, to discipline him. Strike three—I mentioned three strikes—is that the brain stem in the male houses more spinal fluid, which is yet one more part of what makes him so physical. All of those things—again, reminders that he is a creature who’s hardwired for activity and movement. As much space and opportunities, we can create to honor that is a part of how God hardwired him. I think it changes the game. It really does.
Mike Siciliano [00:12:16] There’s a story that has come to my mind in listening to you talk. My wife and I, when we had our first little girl… She was two. We went to this really small church. We all took turns watching the kids. We rotated families. My wife and I had our day watching the kids. It was about 12 kids under 5, age 1 to 5. It was pretty split between girls and boys. Halfway through we’re looking at each other. The girls are sitting at the table coloring and talking, and the boys are standing on the table picking up their chairs. We’re just like, “What is going on right now?” We didn’t have a boy. “What do we do?” But what I’m piecing together is some of that is hardwiring. We were destined for that moment. It wasn’t so much that we were terrible at the child care; that’s a little bit of the programming.
Sissy Goff [00:13:12] Yes.
Mike Siciliano [00:13:12] Okay. What would you say to people who…? There’s so much out there in the world right now around gender, and stereotyping, and underrepresented groups. Are there people that you come across that say, “Well, hey, if we define boys and girls in these ways, where we’re playing into those stereotypes…?” Do you have a response to those people?
David Thomas [00:13:40] I remember a little pushback when we titled the book Wild Things and some parents who said, “I have a son who’s not as wild.” I love the opportunity in that to speak to we’re talking about a lot of boys and a spectrum of boys who are more active and some who are less. I was even thinking when Sissy was talking about the number of words. We know some girls who are less talkative and some who are more, and some boys who are more talkative. I think we always want to be speaking to the acknowledgment that as we talk about these ideas and a lot of generalizations that we’re going to find the kids we love all along the way in terms of some who are more of these things and a little bit less. I think certainly, you mentioned, Sissy, temperament. I know a lot of firstborn boys who bend a little less toward activity and a little more toward compliance, and some thirdborns who have all those fascinating things that we tend to see a lot of times with second- and thirdborn. I think certainly, there are ingredients in the mix that could impact the equation, as well.
Sissy Goff [00:14:43] I think there is a… I have a sister who’s 16 years younger than I am, and she has an almost-three-year-old little guy. With her and even with her friends who have boys, hearing David talk, I think it feels to me like every parent who is hurting feels pretty alone and panicked right now. I think the parents who are pushing back maybe aren’t coming to us. We don’t have as many conversations with them. But I think there is a desperation for who is my child, and how do I help?
Mike Siciliano [00:15:14] They want to understand their kid.
Sissy Goff [00:15:18] Right. To go back to the science of it, I think can ground all of us in this really helpful way to say, “This is who we are, and this is…” I love that old experiencing God study. I don’t even remember when it came out. But it was like, “What’s God doing, and how do you come alongside that?” I think that’s so much of what parenting is. Who has God made your kids to be, and how do you come alongside and further that? When there’s information that feels true, I think it resonates no matter what. I think one of the things… I was thinking when we teach this raising boys and girls class back and forth, and sometimes we’ll have parents who will come up and say, “My daughter really aligns more with what David was talking about.” I have experienced as we talk about it… He talks about boys having such physicality to their emotions, and activity, and movement, and all of that. Often for girls who have a lot of physicality to their emotions, there’s something more going on for them. I’m not going to say every girl who has more physicality has ADHD, but girls who have ADHD have more physicality to their emotions. I think if we were just to push back and say we’re stereotyping boys and girls, we could miss sometimes a deeper thing that’s going on in kids, where we’re not helping them as much. Even going underneath it to okay, what is going on, and might there be another reason rather than just let’s push back against all the stereotypes.
Mike Siciliano [00:16:39] In my work with teenagers… I work with high school kids. Some of the things you said have just really rung true in the last few years. You mentioned girls and anxiety. We’re seeing some of that. Pandemic and all that I’m sure is a part of it. But talk a little bit about that. You said eight is often the onset of that. Is that different than 50 years ago?
Sissy Goff [00:17:06] Yes. We wrote this “Are My Kids on Track?” book—I should look it up when we wrote it—I think eight years ago, nine years ago now, if I had to guess. The statistics at that point were one in eight kids. Three years ago they were one in four. It has changed that fast. Now we’re one in three adolescents in particular, and girls are twice as likely.
Mike Siciliano [00:17:28] One thing that I hear when… Kids come in, and they acknowledge their anxiety. Sometimes we have a conversation with parents. The word anxiety gets a lot of different reactions. Some people will say, “Well, does that just mean they’re just stressed? Does it just mean they’re…? Did they just need a week off?” You’re using data one in eight, one in four, one in three. It’s not necessarily that we’re getting softer as a community; it really is that the kids are more anxious than they were before?
Sissy Goff [00:18:03] Well, I would say there’s two things happening. One is, I do think that language has become more of their vernacular. I don’t think kids say, “I’m stressed” anymore.
Mike Siciliano [00:18:13] They just go straight to, “I’m anxious.”
Sissy Goff [00:18:14] They go straight to “I’m anxious. I’m not sad; I’m depressed. I’m having a panic attack. I had an emotional day. I must be bipolar.” They just use that language. But the reality is the numbers have gone up, too, which is really tragic in my mind for the kids who are struggling with depression and anxiety, because now the words are being used up, and no one hears when they’re really struggling with it. But yes, the numbers are significantly higher at this point.
Mike Siciliano [00:18:42] Why is that?
Sissy Goff [00:18:44] The pandemic has definitely made it worse. But before the pandemic, obviously, it was going up so much. There are so many things we could talk about. Two of the primary ones: I think we are overscheduled to the degree that our kids are really suffering. I think there’s just too much. I remember a girl saying to me, “I had to ask my mom to stop scheduling activities for me.” She was introverted and overwhelmed, and it was too much for her. I think that overscheduling is a piece of it. I think the pressure that kids feel.
Mike Siciliano [00:19:16] Well, I was going to say there’s pressure to overschedule. There’s the whole college but you got to do this club and this activity. That can be part of that.
Sissy Goff [00:19:27] At least in Nashville, I’ve got to do tutoring so I can take the test to get in the right elementary school. It’s crazy. Overscheduling and then, yeah, the pressure. I think girls, in particular, today have this drive to pursue excellence in all things, whether it’s athletic, it’s artistic, it’s academic, all the areas, and be kind, and a good friend, and look amazing on social media while I’m doing it. I think those things combined with… I think parents are making it worse very unintentionally, not ever meaning to. But I think that’s… If I had to say probably the top three reasons besides just technology in general, which we could have a whole other conversation about that.
Mike Siciliano [00:20:13] That deserves its own podcast.
Sissy Goff [00:20:14] I know. I would say those are the top three reasons.
Mike Siciliano [00:20:17] What are some ways that parents may inadvertently be causing a little more anxiety or adding a little pressure?
Sissy Goff [00:20:25] Research says that the two most common parenting strategies when a child gets anxious are escaping and avoidance. Of course, as a parent if your child is in distress, what do you do, because you love them, but to help step in and pull them out? In all the research on the anxiety books, I came up with this definition of anxiety: an overestimation of the problem and an underestimation of themselves. If she or he comes upon this thing that he feels anxious about, and I pull him, I’ve just said, “Yep, it’s too big. You’re too small. You can’t do it. You’re not capable.” Then it just gets more entrenched, and the next time, they don’t do it again. They’re going to be less likely. I don’t know if you would add on…
David Thomas [00:21:08] I would totally agree. I was even thinking when you were talking about the pressure piece. Just before we left to come here, I drove by a sign in my neighborhood that was a sign-up for flag football. It said 3- to 14-year-olds. I had to stop. I’m like, “Surely, that said 8 to 14, and I didn’t see 3.” But I backed up, and it definitely said three. I think that is, to me, such a picture. I think with so many boys, I experience a lot of anxiety in that space of performance, a lot of anxiety around their athletic experience because that tends to matter so much. I laughed with a mom in my office this week. She’s like, “I wish he felt a little more anxiety about school. I’d love to see it. Just a smidge more there.”
Mike Siciliano [00:21:51] It’s so funny that you say that. Again, as I’m sitting here listening and I think about the kids that come into my office with issues, when it’s anxiety about school, it’s 99% girls. I rarely have a male student come in and say, “I’m just so overwhelmed by all these tests that I have.” But with the boys what we see now is… We have a sophomore that we have a conversation with, and we say, “Hey, look, you’re going to play some JV right now.” It’s tears. Like, “My life is over that I’m playing JV as a sophomore because I got a buddy over here that’s playing varsity.” I don’t know if that rings true with what you guys are seeing, it sounds like.
David Thomas [00:22:36] There again, to our conversation a few minutes ago, I could think of a couple boys I’m working with right now who do have a lot of anxiety about school, or about the ACT or their SAT score. There certainly are going to be some who do, but generally speaking, that’s my experience, too. But you put them in an athletic context that they care greatly about, and that’s where I start to hear, “I’m having stomach aches; I feel sick; I’m throwing up before the game,” those sorts of things. That’s the space. I think if we track it all the way back to the three-year-old sign-up, the pressure that I think boys feel even in that space. I can’t tell you how many middle school boys who will say, “Well, I can’t play football. I didn’t start when I was in fourth grade.” I’m thinking, “Oh, my goodness. When did we decide that needed to happen at that age to determine what you’d be doing when you’re in seventh grade?” I think we’ve ramped up so many things in a lot of spaces where kids operate, and I think it just has been the pressure piece you’ve talked about.
Sissy Goff [00:23:32] I’ve never had as many girls. I had one this last week who said, “I’m disappointed in my grades.” I said, “How are you doing?” She said, “I have 100s.” She was so serious.
Mike Siciliano [00:23:41] I’m so glad I’m not the only one to get that.
Sissy Goff [00:23:42] Oh, my goodness, yes. You’re just earning enough AP points to carry you through. It’s heartbreaking to me.
David Thomas [00:23:49] The pressure I think kids feel about college. We started this work decades ago. I rarely remember sitting with kids who were fearful they wouldn’t get in. Certainly, fear I might not get in my school of choice but that I’ll get in somewhere. We sit with kids all the time who are terrified. Like, “No college may take me. It’s so competitive. My scores aren’t high enough.” I just think there’s another place of pressure.
Mike Siciliano [00:24:12] My joke with those kids is, “So, basically, it’s either you’re going to Harvard, or you’re being homeless under a bridge. Those are your two life options. Good luck.” That’s what they feel like. Maybe here’s a question. From my seat, it’s a little bit of… It feels like sometimes kids don’t have enough of an imagination of all of the possibilities that their life could possibly be like. It’s like there’s this way, that way, or unhappiness. I don’t know if that jives with what you see. But how do we change their perspective on that, either as parents or as a school? What can we do to build that imagination that maybe will settle some of that anxiety or that pressure?
Sissy Goff [00:24:57] That’s such a good question. As you’re saying that, I think… I love that you’re saying what can we do as parents because I do feel like it’s a little bit of a trickle-down. Because I think a lot of the kids I see, it’s not necessarily Harvard or homeless, but it’s these eight schools that I’ve been talking to family about.
Mike Siciliano [00:25:15] Ivy League or home.
Sissy Goff [00:25:17] Well, or even it’s some state schools that are now really hard to get into. I think we’re not helping them get to a place where they see that there are more options. Not only that there are more options, but they’re great options, where they could enjoy their lives during college. I think for us to think outside of the box, for us to be creative, for us to go back to experiencing God and who has God made your kids to be. It may be that they’re not going to be a Harvard student. It may not even be that they can get in Georgia. Nobody’s talking about Georgia here. But I think to get outside of the box and think… I have two kids right now. There’s a church in Nashville that is an amazing church, and they have started their own college. I have two girls that are going to that college. One of them’s learning photography, and the other one’s working to be—I don’t know—some kind of children’s minister or something. They’re so excited, and they love it. I love that their parents got outside of the box a little bit to see something different.
David Thomas [00:26:14] I would add to that that I think for all the hard things that have happened with this pandemic, one of the things we’re grateful for is we’ve never been in a conversation as a culture about mental health the way we are right now. I’m so grateful. I hate these were the circumstances that brought us to a place of putting a spotlight on that in the way I wish we always had, but I think we’re thinking about well-being in a very different way than we did 5 years ago, 10 years ago. We’re defining well-being, and happiness, and success, and so many things differently. I think that Paul Tough wrote a great book called “How Children Succeed.”
Mike Siciliano [00:26:51] I loved that.
David Thomas [00:26:52] You’re shaking your head. I did, too. Where he talks about non-cognitive skills. When we interview people who report satisfaction—relational satisfaction, vocational satisfaction—those tend to be individuals who embody the skills of well-being more than it is and make an insane amount of money. “I travel this much,” those sorts of things. I would hope, to your question, that as parents we’re thinking more about how we can, within our homes, define and align happiness, success, well-being in those ways that I think again, all the way down to make us think a little bit differently about three-year-old flag football. Maybe we don’t need to sign up for that. Maybe we just need to go to the park on Saturdays, kick a ball around, and picnic together as a family.
Mike Siciliano [00:27:37] It’s almost like we have to have a little more of an imagination, too, of how our kids could be happy. Sometimes we expect them to do it the way we did it, and it might look differently for them. I’m glad to hear you say that about mental health. That was one of the other questions I was going to ask you. In the last three years, have parents’ attitudes towards even seeking you out changed? I feel like even five years ago there’s a little bit of a stigma of well if I’m going to bring my six-year-old to a therapist, there must be something really wrong. Has that changed, or do you still encounter a little bit of that resistance or hesitation from parents to bring their kids in to do that kind of work?
Sissy Goff [00:28:19] I feel like I rarely encounter resistance. I had one last week which is really interesting. It’s maybe the only one I can remember in the last two years that is not the norm. I had a conversation with a parent recently that I loved. I felt like she was so wise. She sat down. I think we get resistance from kids. But she said, “My daughter said, ‘Why am I doing this? Do you feel like something’s wrong with me?'” She said, “No, I feel like our job as parents is to build your team. We have a great team academically for you at your school. We have a great physician in place with your pediatrician who’s helping us with your body and your health. Of course, we would have people on your team emotionally and for your mental health. Daystar is going to be your people. We’re just building your team.”
Mike Siciliano [00:29:06] Awesome.
Sissy Goff [00:29:07] Yes, I just think it’s a beautiful response.
David Thomas [00:29:10] I was thinking the same thing. That’s probably one of the great things that has come in the last decade, that I’ve seen more of a shift than ever. More parents who are seeking us out from a proactive posture than ever, seeing check-ins with us at times like a well visit with a pediatrician. Sometimes we go to the doctor when we’re sick and we have a cold or a virus, and sometimes we go when we’re well just to check-in. I love that piece of parent consultations that we do. I love that parents are asking those kinds of questions early into development in really thoughtful ways from that proactive posture.
Mike Siciliano [00:29:44] All right. Well, as happens sometimes, we are talking way more, I think than we anticipated because you’re bringing so much awesome stuff for us to talk about. I think what we might do is end this as part one of our podcast. Do you mind sticking around, and we’ll do a part two?
Sissy Goff [00:29:59] Be happy to.
Mike Siciliano [00:30:01] Okay. Awesome. Thank you so much to our listeners. This is going to be the end of part one with Sissy Goff and David Thomas. You can check us out for part two on Apple Music, or Spotify, or other places that podcasts are found. Of course, we also have our video podcasts if you want to see us on YouTube. We’ll be back with part two in a bit.