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Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow [Kindle Edition]

Michael Thompson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

An insightful and powerful look at the magic of summer camp—and why it is so important for children to be away from home . . . if only for a little while.
In an age when it’s the rare child who walks to school on his own, the thought of sending your “little ones” off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming—for you and for them. But parents’ first instinct—to shelter their offspring above all else—is actually depriving kids of the major developmental milestones that occur through letting them go—and watching them come back transformed.
In Homesick and Happy, renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, shares a strong argument for, and a vital guide to, this brief loosening of ties. A great champion of summer camp, he explains how camp ushers your children into a thrilling world offering an environment that most of us at home cannot: an electronics-free zone, a multigenerational community, meaningful daily rituals like group meals and cabin clean-up, and a place where time simply slows down. In the buggy woods, icy swims, campfire sing-alongs, and daring adventures, children have emotionally significant and character-building experiences; they often grow in ways that surprise even themselves; they make lifelong memories and cherished friends. Thompson shows how children who are away from their parents can be both homesick and happy, scared and successful, anxious and exuberant. When kids go to camp—for a week, a month, or the whole summer—they can experience some of the greatest maturation of their lives, and return more independent, strong, and healthy.

Editorial Reviews


“Every parent dreads letting children go. Partly, we dread it because we lack a clear roadmap of how and when to do it. Homesick and Happy changes that. It is a powerful and very accessible book that helps build maturity and resilience in our children—and also in parents, as well!”—Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls
“With a deep understanding, a great sense of humor, and impeccable resources, Michael Thompson succeeds brilliantly in generating just a touch of envy in the hearts of all those parents who read Homesick and Happy . . . for the great fun their kids are going to have.”—Harriet Lowe, editor in chief, Camping magazine
“Thompson pours his heart into these pages, along with his unsurpassed wisdom about children and their parents. Full of practical advice and unforgettable anecdotes, this book is an instant classic.”—Edward Hallowell, MD, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness
“With his usual compassion and warmth, Thompson helps parents let go of the imagined dangers that feed our anxieties, and avoid the real dangers of holding on to our children too tightly.”—Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, author of Playful Parenting
“Michael Thompson is back with a compelling argument for the brawn and bonds that only camp can give a child. You’ll be signing her up before you make it through the first chapter.”—Rachel Simmons, former director of Girls Leadership Institute Summer Camp and author of The Curse of the Good Girl

About the Author

Michael Thompson, PhD, is the author or co-author of eight books, including the bestselling Raising Cain. A consulting school psychologist and popular school speaker, he is also a former board member of the American Camp Association. The father of two, he lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1400 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005NKH96A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,372 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Color:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Michael Thompson's HOMESICK AND HAPPY is at once a tribute to sleepover camps and a plea to parents to give their kids the opportunity to experience time away from home. The book is a collection of interviews Thompson conducted with children, parents, and camp counselors, along with his own insight into the benefits of the camp experience for almost every child.

Part of Thompson's message here is that children today are having fewer and fewer opportunities to be on their own, away from well-meaning parents. That means they are having a harder time developing the self-confidence and independence that is so important as they grow up. Too often, Thompson says, parents are doing too much for their children, in the name of "good parenting." We want our children to be happy and confident, to be safe, to have friends, to do well in school, and to be independent people. But these are the very things parents cannot do for their children. Summer sleepover camp, says Thompson, can help children develop these things on their own.

The book provides a number of detailed stories about children who have attended a wide variety of camps, including a long section on homesickness. This is probably the scariest thing about camp, not only for the children who will be suffering from it (almost all children do, Thompson says), but also for the parents who have to receive those horrible letters ("Mom, I HATE it here! Come get me!"). Thompson sees homesickness as a very painful but necessary part of the process of separation - by mastering homesickness, children learn what they're truly capable of. This is the beginning to real independence and confidence.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Color:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Author Michael Thompson, has produced another solid book (he is the author of Raising Cain), this one designed to encourage parents to allow their kids - both boys and girls- to live away from their parents, at camp or in other ways for part of the summer. Raising Cain focused on the emotional needs of boys. This time around, Thompson covers a wider scope, describing how all children need to learn how to be independent. This may be best accomplished away from parents - for a few weeks or even a couple of months each summer - at an overnight camp.

The material in Homesick and Happy might be very difficult for parents to accept, especially when the world can seem more dangerous or scary than ever. Newspaper headlines focus on the worst case situations and yes, they can be gruesome and horrifying. As a result, the instinctive reaction may be to hover, to remain ever more vigilant and to stay close to one's child at all times.

But sooner or later, children mature and will have to navigate life when parents aren't around. Homesick and Happy provides guidelines on how to let children do exactly this by starting with trips away from home. Thompson provides helpful tips on alleviating anxieties - for both children AND parents (often, it is rougher on the parents than the kids).

Thompson describes how children are spending summers focused on academics instead of taking a break from school. Perhaps this is because parents worry about how to keep their kids competitive and believe that studying for hours daily - even in the summer - helps their children stay on top.

But what about opportunities for imaginative play and creativity? What about being part of a community that doesn't include parents...just for awhile?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helps parents learn when it's okay to let go... July 8, 2012
Color:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I didn't order this book to read about kids' summer camps, per se. I ordered this book because I know I have a tendency to be an overprotective parent who wants to shelter my child from everything bad. I hoped it would be a good "counter viewpoint" for me, and it was. Definitely food for thought...

We may want to protect our children from everything and keep them close to us. However, this book - through the author's extensive study of children at summer camp - helps parents to see that there is a balance to be struck. When children are away from their parents, even when they are homesick, they grow and learn in ways that they can never do under their parents watchful eye.

The book provides a list of skills that children can only learn when they are away from home - skills parents alone cannot teach them. There are many case studies of children at camp and their personal experiences. There are suggestions for helping children conquer homesickness, and tips for parents who are missing their children when they are apart.

This was an interesting book, and a good reminder for parents who have to strike a difficult balance - between holding their children close and learning how to let go at the right times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Time Away is a Good Thing. :) April 9, 2013
Color:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I feel very lucky in that, although I never did summer camp or anything like that, I had a lot more freedoms to explore things on my own then most children. Even though my parents were definitely strict, in terms of physical distance limitations, I was allowed to travel a lot further than most children I knew were around the neighborhood. I love this fact because it created a sense of independence in more and an attitude of fearlessness, that many of my peers lack.

I have some family that keeps a very tight leash when it comes to distance on their children, and those children are at times, monsters and have little understanding of how things work in the real world, despite one of them being in their teens. When I was that age, I had a good working of the way things worked because I was allowed the freedom I needed to make mistakes. Did some of them hurt me? Absolutely, but I don't regret them, I was smart of the big things, and dumb on the little things. I still had limitations on where I could go, and yes, I had to call and check in, but other than that, I had a lot of room to roam.

Whereas most of the people I know whose parents went to one extreme or the other, their children grew up to have a distorted world view and either ended up in abusive situations or drugs or just do nothing with their lives but work and sleep or they don't even work.

I explain all of this because, for me, this book, while yes, is primarily about camps, really explains how important it is for parents not to have a super tight leash. Children need to be allowed to make mistakes so they know when they go out in to the world alone, its okay. This book makes that point very well, via the avenue of summer camps.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling it Like it is .....
A must read for parents in the fence with sending their kid(s) to camp. Questions answered, mind at ease, points addressed, and feeling validated... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is an excellent book for ALL Parents, Counselors or Anyone who works with children to read…..
Published 7 months ago by Cathy Bruckert
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for parents!
I am a life long summer camp camper and now administrator and think that this book should be required reading for camp directors and head staff. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for very parent
An easy must read for every parent; articulates what we really know already! You owe tit o yourself and your child.
Published 16 months ago by Mitch Reiter
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for the Parents of Every First Time Camper!
This is a wonderful book to help parents deal with sending their children off to summer camp for the first time. It is well written and it provides many anecdotes about camp life. Read more
Published 23 months ago by JS
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I read this the week before my son left for his first sleepaway camp and it put me totally at ease. It also reinforced all of the reasons I knew camp was a great developmental... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Miranda8676
3.0 out of 5 stars reassuring, but most of us don't need an entire book for this topic
This book is generally quite interesting, and comfortably written. It has the tone you'd expect if you were a nervous parent speaking to a counselor at a camp, nervous about an... Read more
Published on May 4, 2013 by bored99
5.0 out of 5 stars comfort for parents
As a camp hostess I often speak to worried parents. This book offers just the words I need to comfort kidsick parents and give them the courage not to run and whisk their children... Read more
Published on May 4, 2013 by Jane H. Southard
5.0 out of 5 stars Homesick & Happy
I never got this book but now the Vine program I ordered it through is requiring a review of every product before you can get more and new ones come out every 3rd Thursday of the... Read more
Published on April 6, 2013 by Debbie.
2.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone's style
as an attachment parent(er) I can't see myself applying this in my own household but I can see it working in many other households and making positive results. Read more
Published on April 5, 2013 by N. Glenn
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More About the Author

Michael Thompson, Ph.D., is a preeminent child psychologist who lectures widely on topics pertaining to the development of boys and also conducts problem-solving workshops with parents, teachers, and students around the country. A highly sought-after consultant to schools, Dr. Thompson is currently the staff psychologist of an all-boys independent school in the Boston area. The coauthor with Edward Hallowell, M.D., of Finding the Heart of the Child, Dr. Thompson has worked for more than fifteen years as a child and family therapist.

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