My conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Stern about parenting was lively and informative. Dr. Stern is a Licensed Clinical Child Psychologist in Honolulu, and someone I’ve known and respected for many years and he is never at a loss for things to say on all topics Psychology (and on every other subject as well!)

There are probably as many opinions on parenting as there are parents in the world!  One common difference falls along the lines of the level and amount parental guidance and involvement in their childrens’ lives.  In one camp, parents feel the need to saturate their children with opportunities. Sometimes this approach stems from a desire to give their children every possible advantage to succeed and excel in life, from going to the best possible college to “crushing it” in their careers later in life. Other parents don’t want their children to “miss out” on any possible opportunity to shine, and hope that by pushing them into numerous activities they will find the one that “clicks.” Kids from these families may become “hyper-scheduled,” with little down time outside of scheduled activities.

In the other camp, possibly as a reaction to hyper-scheduling, are the parents and families where expectations about children’s activities and performance are minimal. In many families, the child is simply in control over what he or she wants to do, from extracurricular activities to choices about his or her life path after school. In other families, children may not participate in traditional education and extracurricular activities at all. They are sometimes home-schooled, world-schooled, or even “un-schooled” — all movements by families seeking an alternative to the traditional methods of child education and experience. These children may be viewed as “un-scheduled.”

Dr. Stern emphasized that there are no right or wrong methods of raising children along this hyper-scheduled/un-scheduled continuum. Ultimately, the right path toward parenting and raising children is a complex interaction of cultural values, and the unique personalities of the parents and their children.

Dr. Stern is a licensed clinical psychologist and consultant currently dividing his time between academia (teaching full time at Chaminade University and part time at the University of Hawaii at Manoa) and clinical practice (Fridays and Saturdays). He is a past president and current board member of the Hawaii Psychological Association and a kama’aina, having called Honolulu his home for 50 years.