What: Davis Parent University lecture series featuring author and educator Mike Riera
When: Friday at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m. and seats are first-come, first-served)
Where: Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St.
Mike Riera brings much to the topic of parenting.
With a Ph.D. in psychology, a handful of books he’s authored and 25 years as a school counselor, teacher and dean of students, including his current position as head of the Brentwood School, a private K-12 in Southern California, Riera knows a thing or two about kids.
But it was becoming a father himself that affected his views on effective parenting more than any research or study could.
“Having kids changed my thinking the most,” he said. “Parenting is more emotional than intellectual. It’s very, very personal.”
Parents will get a chance to hear first-hand from Riera when he speaks at Davis Parent University on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School. Admission is free.
The author of “Staying Connected to Your Children” and “Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers,” Riera has spoken about effective parenting on “Oprah,” “The View” and numerous news programs and says his underlying message is based on research and has remained essentially the same over the years.
But as a parent — his daughter is a senior in high school and his son a sixth-grader — he’s come to see how personalities, values and lifestyles can play into the equation as well.
“I’m not the black-and-white guy,” he said.
So for example, if a strict bedtime works for one family, that’s great.
“Other families don’t need to do it and if they flip, they go crazy. It’s not who they are.”
The bottom line, he says, “is if anyone tells you how to parent your kids, you should probably run for the door.”
What parents can learn, though, is why kids — and especially teenagers — behave the way they do.
“What I always try to do is to take what we know from the research in developmental psychology and translate that for parents,” he said, “to help parents understand their children and teens better. Because the better they understand them, the better it will be.”
And what he offers are successful approaches other parents have used to deal with issues and conflict over the years.
“My hope is to give people lots of different ideas so they can go home and do things differently as a result of my talk,” Riera said.
One of the concepts Riera returns to often — and which will be the central theme of his talk in Davis — is the changing role of parents. Over time, he said, parents need to shift from a manager role to a consultant role. But they don’t want to make that shift too early, and they don’t want to wait too long either.
“I try to give parents a framework to know when to intervene and when to back off and let them be on their own,” he said. “There is a hesitancy to let kids fail. But there is good failure and bad failure. Good failure makes you smarter and stronger. Bad failure doesn’t.”
Riera said he will leave plenty of time for audience questions in addition to delivering his prepared talk.
This is the fifth year that the Davis Community-wide K-12 Parent Education Collaborative has presented the Davis Parent University lecture series in conjunction with the Davis Joint United School District Climate Committee. Community sponsors include Suzanne Kimmel of First Street Real Estate, Hyatt Place UC Davis and Baciarini’s Martial Arts. Additional partners include Davis Media Access, The Avid Reader, the Yolo Family Resource Center and Davis parent-teacher associations.
The next installment in this year’s lecture series will feature author John O’Sullivan, who will discuss “raising happy, high-performing athletes” on Friday, March 14, from 7 to 9 p.m.
O’Sullivan started the Changing the Game Project in 2012 after two decades as a soccer player and coach on the youth, high school, college and professional level. His books, “Changing the Game: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes” and “Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids” focus on nurturing positive, healthy and supportive relationships between parents and their young athletes.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy