Last week in a Parents Association sponsored event, Dr. Edward Hallowell, child and adult psychiatrist, and bestselling author of more than twenty books, including The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, spoke to parents at Saint David's about the extreme importance of meaningful connectivity in childrens' lives.
In an era when we primarily speak of connections in an online sense, Dr. Hallowell urged parents to "saturate your child with positive connections" that go beyond the digital. His recommendations and messages included advising parents to model how to be a good friend through the cultivation of their own friendships. He also spoke about the superiority of in-person friendships to those that are primarily lived online, and how important it is for children to feel connected to nature, to an activity or team and with others who have similar interests. By exposing them to a broad range of people, organizations, and institutions, children have a greater opportunity to discover a latent passion. This is a key.
That we live in a digital world is a given, but Dr. Hallowell stressed that electronic use by children (and adults) needs to be moderated, likening it to excessive eating (or other habits or even addictions) if left unchecked.
At Saint David's, we recognize the necessity of a boy's feeling connected and a valued member. We emphasize the importance of connection-making, whether through collaborative academic/artistic projects the boys engage in, our family-style meals, daily Chapel, the sportsmanship that is stressed in our athletics programs, the community service we do in groups, our buddy programs, and the vast array of tradition and ritual that defines a Saint David's education. We cannot, however take any of this for granted. It is something we must continuously reflect upon, critically evaluate, and then further evolve. Helping boys make connection is never done.