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Welcome to the thoughtful counselor. I am Margaret Lamar. And today I'm here with Dr. Christy cannon to talk more about lifespan development, specifically around middle childhood and adolescence. So if you've got kids, those that those ages or clients, this is going to be a great conversation. I'm thrilled to have you today. Dr. Kenan, and I hope you would start by just telling us about your journey to the field of counseling and counselor education.
Hi, yah, Margaret, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be able to join. And certainly to talk about this age group. It's it's a passion of mine. It was long before I got involved in this textbook, but certainly excited to share more about it. As for me, I it's, it's an interesting journey. You know, I think a lot of people get into counseling and have had these varied paths along the way that have led them to this. And mine is just almost been a very straight shot. I remember being in early middle childhood, kind of the the adolescent years, I had an assignment in school in the sixth grade. And we were asked like to do some research on future professions, and I found counseling, and it really just stuck. There were just some elements that I really loved about it. And the idea of being able to help people and I think I was always naturally a really strong Empath, I just felt the feelings of people always inanimate objects always just was really kind of strange things. So. So that was it. I went to undergrad and got my bachelor's in psychology and went straight into a master's program for community counseling, and then straight into my PhD for counselor education and supervision. So it was a pretty fast and steady pace to get me here. Yeah,
that's just very much the opposite of me, where I sort of just tripped into it completely by accident. All right. So tell us about how you became interested in human development to refer research and I looked a little bit at some of your past work, and you've done work around human development before.
So yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I think, again, part partly by virtue of being so young, when I got my PhD that I, I really felt like going into teaching right away, didn't fit one because I didn't have any strong clinical experience to really draw from and, and also, I was young, I looked young, and it just kind of felt like I needed to get in and do some clinical work. And so I worked started off in private practice. And I went in partnership with one of my colleagues from my grad program, and one of our professors who kind of helped us kind of launch that at the time. And so she was working with, with young children, that was kind of her specialization area. And mine was in adolescence, and of course, expanded as I got into private practice to other age groups. But I would think I was really passionate about it, because of my own experience in adolescence and really, kind of that mean girl phenomenon that went on, I actually did my dissertation research on relational aggression and adolescent females. And so that was really the first piece of it for me is like I had this lived experience. And it was an experience that I think a lot of young girls and even, you know, boys and you know, I think the expanse now go through, but it was really that awareness that this is something that is happening. It's very developmental, and I really wanted to understand that what is it about girls and the nature of how we are raised and the socialization of what is appropriate for us to do and not do in terms of being aggressive or aggressive and interacting with each other and working out those issues, you know, at school, or at home. So that was always an interest of mine. And that's what really where I, you know, did my dissertation research and then in clinical practice to just continue to flush that out. And I did a lot of presenting on that, at the time, really kind of one, again, building out my practice. But as I was engaging in middle schools and working with, you know, administrations and parents, of course, coming out of those presentations, it just became this, this role, interest of mine to see the varied experiences. So I think that one of the things that it affirmed for me was that there are these kinds of shared experiences that we have in development, but also how much variation there exists by virtue of who you are, where you're born, your family culture, where you grew up your zip code. And I think that was the other piece of it. And especially relative to this project, I think, in clinical practice, the one thing that it taught me that I don't think grad programs do a great job of teaching is just how much all of that culture and context plays in and, you know, I kept thinking to myself, like, why wasn't I trained on this? Or why did I not know this? And I think that was it is, you know, sometimes those pieces just get relegated to, you know, the last page of a chapter on lifespan development, instead of really looking at how does that really impact the way that someone is shaped and formed and what becomes appropriate for them or not? So you know, it was just kind of a, it's been an evolution, but really, I think, by virtue of my own experiences, and then just seeing that play out in my own clinical practice.
Yeah, so interesting. So can you let's, let's dig into your, your, to your specific subject, which was middle childhood and adolescence. So can you define where middle childhood starts in sort of what their age span that you're looking at for middle childhood? And then adolescence?
Yeah, so middle childhood, technically, it's kind of in that age around six, moving up to about age 10, or 11. And then we look at adolescence, from that point, all the way through 18, or even 19, that that's kind of that spread has expanded. So it's a good chunk of life. There's a lot of development that happens cognitively, that, you know, physically, there's just tons of development going on and a lot of shifting. So I think that that was the other piece that was really fascinating is I think we all evolve, obviously, and have different developmental experiences as we age, but these just seem to be some very tender ages and ages, where the implications of the crossover of cognitive development and your physical development all kind of start playing into your emotional and psychological development. So I think those were just really fascinating pieces for me along the way, as well.
Yeah, I am seeing that it's so interesting. I didn't. I don't know if I realized that was the definition of middle childhood. But I think I am seeing that middle childhood and my daughter as it like, develops, she's developing. She's going to be eight this summer. And she's kind of moving toward that. I joke about how she's prepubescent already, you know, already, like rolling her eyes at me and thinks I'm not cool at all, which is, I did not realize that would happen so quickly.
Well, you know, the funny thing is, I'm in the same boat. So I have a I have a nine year old. And, and a seven, almost eight year old. And I had that same thought and wait, I shouldn't have to have that happened to me yet. Like that's between stuff, right? It's supposed to come. But it's not supposed to hit yet. But I think that was the other epiphany I had in writing this and really experiencing it firsthand with my children, alongside my own experience. And alongside the research is just how even societally I think we've changed. I think the expectations around parenting have shifted. And that's really had some implications too. But for sure, I know, I've become like, I feel like I've turned into my mom of saying you should not be doing that at this point. Because I know I thought, Oh,
I have some years before I have to like deal with a, you know, a preteen or a you know, I just I thought it would happen in middle school. I didn't realize it would happen when they weren't she was seven so. So something you said made me think you're talking about parenting and parenting practices and how they've changed. And I'm, I'm curious, just as you approach this as a person who had either I don't know, there was a lot of parallel process going on, right? You had your own experiences you have, you know, you're also a counselor and you've worked with kids this age. So there's that and then you also have your kids that you're watching so I'm curious about what the impact of doing this work is how has it changed how you how you parent or how you think about kids, your own kids or you know, nieces and nephews and things like that. What how does that has that shifted? Are you
such a great question because it really has a lot, I remember as I was digging into the research, and even as we are framing it, as you know, these great theories that I think are good frameworks for understanding how we can get locked into believing that that's how things should be. And really, you know, guilty of it, I'm like, I'm reading a textbook that counters that and still fall into that trap and saying, like, this should not be happening, or I don't understand it. And I think what it has done for me, at least with my own children, is really to try and increase my empathy and increase my capacity for letting them develop in ways that support what they're wanting and needing I think that, that I try, I've tried to really try to move away from, you know, having any given set expectations, like you are a boy, or you are a girl, or you are at this age, or you have had this experience, and therefore you should next have this experience, I just tried to really be a lot more open minded and, and have more space for all of the variations that that have an impact on them. Which is also simultaneously terrifying. You know, I had my daughter just recently talked to me about, you know, her own development, and this is my nine year old and like, I have this identity, like, This is who I am with this person. And this is who I am with this person. And this is who I am with this person and was trying to say, Well, who would who do you feel like you really are just like, I don't know, I don't know who I am, I still like I changed so much with every person I don't really know. And it was a struggle for her. And I just, again, went back to this reach research and thinking about, wow, identity formation and development and how we think that somehow they hit an age and that just clicks and they just know it. And it feels like she's grappling with that so much earlier than I would have expected. And also I feel helpless, that's her mom to really help her navigate that. But just really trying to again, kind of give her space to bump up against those walls and do some figuring it out and, and then just affirm along the way is the thinking.
Yeah, oh, gosh, you made it sound very easy. It's not? No, I know. I love that though. In the same way that you're, you know, making space for your daughter, which is very hard, you know, when you're living day in and day out. And at some point, it's like, I just need you to put your shoes on, I don't, you know, like, I don't know, we're just trying to leave the house, we don't need to make a thing out of it. And so it's interesting to you know, you'd be on your on that side of it. And you see sort of that behind the scenes. But then when you're in a counseling session, you're just seeing that child for that, you know, that one hour. And so you're just getting this little tip of the iceberg. And I'm curious about how you approach your work clinically with this age group?
Well, I think that is a really good point, I think and I think that's such a valuable component for those in the mental health field to recognize is that we just get that snippet. And even in that space, safe and protected as it is that, you know, clients will present what they want to present to us. And so I think that's the other draw I've had is just recognizing, like, what is all of this that's going on in the periphery? And really understanding what is the family system? Like? What are the context of school? And what are what's, what is going on, that's impacting that person, particularly middle, middle childhood and adolescence, because I think, again, developmentally, they don't often have the cognitive capacity or the words to say like stuff going on, and they don't know how to frame it in a way that you or I could rationalize it, in this conversation. And that was another, you know, that's just been a thing for me is trying to say, they're, they're acting out. So you know, often if you have a client coming in and age, it's because mom and dad are struggling, they are they're acting out or, you know, not doing whatever, you know, whomever believes they need to be doing. And that's often what's going on. And I found that to be true is that, you know, there's just this sense of no one, they don't feel validated, they don't feel seen and heard. They don't feel like people get them because they don't often understand what it is that's going on with them and for them. And so I think that's been part of what I've done in my clinical practice is really tried to hone into that kind of natural innate empathy that I have and really draw from that create that that understanding, and really facilitate that and understanding more again, around having conversations with parents or caregivers and really trying to understand what is going on with this child that helps get them to that place for that one hour so we can do what we can in that hour, but know that it has much bigger implications outside of that. And part of my job is to understand the moving parts so that I can understand why what's going on in that session is going on.
Hmm, yeah. Okay. So if I'm the if I'm the parent you're working with, and you mentioned earlier parenting practices have changed. So I'm curious about what you talk with your parents of your clients about, like, what are things? What are I guess, you know, what are the parenting practices that you see, that have shifted, that are really supportive of kids? And what are the ones that maybe are not as supportive of kids? And, you know, how do we all make sense of that, and, you know, serve, survive and get through, but also try to, you know, help facilitate the development of healthy children
raised children? Yeah. And it's tricky. I think that the thing that I have to always keep in mind, is that that family culture and understanding what are the belief systems that go into that? And where, where have those originated? And, you know, by virtue of, like, ethnic or racial culture, you know, that has bearing on what are the accepted practices of, you know, parenting, and what is the role of the parent in that child's life. And I think that can dictate a lot of that I have to keep that in mind. Because what I feel like, you know, affirms that child may or may not fit into that dynamic, so that that's something that I've really had to be mindful of, it's easy to sit down and have that conversation and say, here's what I think they need. But if that doesn't fit, then that that doesn't fit. But I do think it's it like there is that psycho educational piece. So I think that is the the place that I really like to live is helping parents understand an affirming acceptance of the child for where they are, that often as parents, we are not going to know, much of in my own daughter's experience, how to help fix it. And I think there's a sense that, you know, as parents, we want to do that. But that if we offer that place to just affirm and accept and validate the child, they're going to have the ability to work through a lot of that. And to offer, like open lines of communication, really fostering that between parent and child or caregiver and child, because I think that's the other piece is that if children, particularly in adolescence, when the developmental process is such that, you know, parents start to play a far less significant role. And if there's, you know, animosity, and it's adversarial, that's only going to shut down even further. So I think so much of work, the work that I do is helping to foster that communication, and build that trust. And then I think, you know, in terms of changes that I've seen, I think it just really is that acceptance of and movement away from, you know, parenting, meaning that I call the shots and I make the rules and without question, yes, there are times when that is the case. And you're exactly right, I, my kids get their shoes on death's door and get to school on time. So that that's that lever that often gets pulled, but I still even go back to the love and LOGIC Series like that, that idea of you piggybank, you put in a lot of love and effort and empathy and support of children. So that when you have to call those shots and say, Okay, now here's the hard line, then you've built up enough equity to be able to say, I can do this. And here's where I gotta step step in if mom and dad say no. So I would say I think those are the pieces that I've seen really kind of shift. And certainly the place I put a lot of emphasis in clinical practice.
Yeah, that's so interesting. It sort of seems like generationally, they're sort of parenting practices, and then those shift and change, you know, I think about the way my parents parented was very on par with other people my age, whose parents, you know, did some very similar types of things. And then now, you know, there's a different, like, a different feel of around parenting, and there is more of this, you know, like empathic parenting or respectful parenting and, and right and just. And so it's great to see that change and shift. And also it means that I don't have a model for how to do that. So it really does feel like such a, you know, like, I'm, I'm sort of making a new path for myself and just figuring out like, what does this look like day to day? I don't know. I, you know, I mean, my parents were great, but they weren't doing the things that I'm doing. And so yeah, it just all feels like, you know, I'm not I'm not totally sure what I'm doing and what I love about what you said, is that piece around just being available and developing that relationship and trust, it actually feels very freeing, like I don't have to know all the right things because sometimes I get very hung up on like, Oh, what is the right amount of screen time or like, what's what's an obscene amount of screen time? Like, I don't want to get there. I just want to be like somewhere in the middle. Or, you know, is this battle that we're fighting like, is this a hill I die on or do I just let this go? I think I feel like I'm always kind of going back and forth. And so it's actually, and I get more hung up on like, what am I doing right or wrong? Or what? And I think what you said just feels to me as a parent, very freeing of like, okay, I don't have to have the answers. I don't have to be the parent that knows everything like my kid might think that I do, I can actually say I don't. And I'm sorry, this is, this sucks. And I'm here for you.
Know, it's so funny that you say that I actually had a conversation with my dad not long ago, and about parenting styles and very similar to you. My parents were just different. And I think the expectation was different around parenting and just didn't question your parents. And you did the things that they said. And and I, you know, my dad said, you know, did you ever question your parenting? Did you have moments where you felt like you didn't know what you were doing? Because I feel like I live in that space all the times. It was really anticipating him to come back and be like, Yeah, I think it's like, I don't know. I mean, I'm sure there were some times that I did. But he also said, you know, I think things are just harder. Now. I think that they're, they're, you know, you have a lot more to contend with that, you know, didn't and certainly by virtue of, you know, that generation, he was a different kind of dad than, you know, my husband is to our children. But I think in that, in that vein of it, it gives you more space, I think you're exactly right to not know, and I really try to work on that with my kids is just acknowledge that I don't know, this is a time when I just don't know, I don't have an answer, or it's hard, or I'm struggling or even apologizing, I did that wrong. As a mom, I should have handled this differently. And trying to model that with them. You know, that I think does, you know, allow a lot more freedom. But I think it also means that you're you got a higher level of anxiety, because you just don't know, you don't know how it's gonna play out with them? Or how, you know, is this gonna work or not? And I'm hoping it does. But we shall see. It's later in life. They're having this conversation with me about parenting one mirror parents.
Yeah, I know, Dr. Roller and I just spoke and she said the same thing. Like, I guess we'll find out if what I'm doing is working. Yeah. So talk to us about adolescence, what's kind of the big stuff happening there? What are what are things that really stood out to you or that you think about as you prepare, you know, mentally and emotionally for your children to move into that phase? Yeah, for sure.
A little bit of terror. If I'm being fully honest about that, I have three daughters, that will be in teenage years, all the same time. But I also think, you know, the research on it. One has really talked about the stretching of that age group, or that that developmental period, if we want to call that much to what we're talking about. So I think, for a lot of kids, they're learning that that emotional development and grappling with that at a far earlier age, and some take much longer to develop. And so you're moving into that, you know, young adulthood stuff. And in there's just a good overlap of that. And I think the other piece that really stood out and again, part of my case study was around a transgender boy, but really looking at the research on gender nonconformity. And the role shift that we have an awareness of that, and acceptance of that, and really trying to look at how our families and cultures and society adjusting to that what are the implications around laws that have, you know, real significant impacts on children that are, you know, transitioning or seeking to transition? And, you know, even again, just the questioning, I think, as my children move into adolescence, the space that they would have to think about, what is my gender? And what does that mean, and having an open space to question that feels much freer now. And I'm grateful for that. But I think we still have a long way to go relative to, you know, again, the the broader societal implications of that. So, you know, this was a case study that was hard to write, because it was, you know, a real person in the sense that everything was a composite of a lot of one clients, or, or children I've seen or just kind of, again, the experiences that I've seen come out, but I think that that's one of the big implications that we have in society that I think are impacting the way that children are expressing themselves and really coming to see their own identities. And then I think, you know, the other thing really is social media. And I know that sounds like the, you know, the cliche answer, but it just has transformed our society in ways that are so good And so affirming and so great, because you have exposure to so many different identities along the way, but also just the potential for harm and shame. And what does that mean? We have that and you don't have, you know, a smaller lens to be brought up. And, you know, this is this is your Bubble to live in. So, you know, just the implications of all of that on development to me are, are both fascinating and great and scary all at the same time.
Yeah, it is interesting. I, you know, I always kind of joke about how, Oh, I'm so glad, you know, that I didn't have all those things in social media pieces. I know, other people will feel that way as well. That's not a unique idea or thought, even though I, you know, I think there's so much positive and good stuff that can come out of it. But I feel like we've we're starting to see this, I don't know this turn over the past few years around social media and how it's just changed and become so commercial. And there, I don't know, there's an I have lots of apps of social media apps. So you know, I'm not like this isn't coming from a judgmental place. I think it's just my own struggle with, you know, how do you? How do you manage that? And how do you help kids make good decisions around that, you know, these things now can follow them forever. And, you know, I've even read some pieces about how it's really hard for, you know, when we were going to college, you could really kind of start over and like figure out who you were, like your daughter is talking about, and you're not attached to these people that have known you, since you were very young, you actually sort of say, like, oh, wait, I actually think I like this, I can be maybe more authentic, my authentic self, and how that's much harder to do. Now, because kids and adolescents, like their social media profiles are following them. And so they don't really have that ability to shift and change their identity or, or, you know, don't don't feel that sort of inner freedom to, to experiment and be more authentic? I don't know, it feels very complicated.
It is, it does, I think it does. And, and I think that's a great term for it. Because I think it really, again, that you get so much more exposure to two identities and two perspectives, and to people that, you know, align with any particular belief system or, you know, any, any and all of that, which is great, but then it can also really, I think, and I wonder about it with regard to this developmental period, because, again, if I would go back to the traditional Ericksonian model, and like, this is the point where they're supposed to be experimenting and figuring it out. And I think, you know, there were parameters around that or felt like, there were, there was limits to, yes, you can experiment, but it's kind of within these boundary lines, and there's just so it's so expansive, with social media that it feels like, you know, to your point, the idea of experimenting now has implications in a much longer term, way. And, you know, we were just talking about it at my institution about, you know, future counselors who have had, you know, put a lot of things out there and again, part of a young adolescent or, you know, emerging adults phase of life that now is that can have implications for who they are as a counselor, can they get licensed, you know, those kinds of pieces? So, I agree, I think it is, it is unique, and I think one of our challenges are being children who were not raised in it, and trying to grapple with how to raise children in it, who've never known anything that it doesn't exist, you know, that's the other thing for me, like, I had my, my six year old, talking to me about, you know, something about, you know, social media, and I was like, How did you even know this? So how do you what is, though she said about Instagram? What are how do you know Instagram? Why How are you using these words with me? They make sense in the context, you're using them. I don't get it.
My son says he's four. He says, I would like to watch dog jokes, which means you would like to watch dogs have tick tock. So that's he doesn't know those terms yet, but he's, he's edgy. He's making his own way hedging there. You know, so something that occurs to me too, that's happening a lot is we're seeing this higher. We're seeing a lot of anxiety in children and adolescents, actually. And I was just seeing today that I saw a headline today in something that was talking about how there's now recommendation that physicians start assessing children for anxiety, and I think, you know, it feels like we're We've just been through this over two year long pandemic, and that has had such a huge impact on this age group, these age groups as well, I'm curious what you're, you know, you're writing this and, you know, wanting it to, you're writing this book and, you know, wanting it to have longevity, but also recognizing, like, Hey, there's this huge thing that's happening, that's going to impact development of this cohort for a while. So I'm just curious about what you see with COVID and mental health with this group?
Yeah, no, I think it's a great, great point, because I think as a whole, I heard I heard last week, someone referencing it as a trauma, collective trauma that we have all gone through. And I think that it's really easy as adults to minimize that experience of children and adolescents and say, you know, they're resilient, and they'll bounce out of it, and it will be fine. But I think, again, of my own children who were out of school for, you know, a year, and we were doing the home school thing, and the lack of socialization at very critical periods of time where that becomes, you know, a pretty significant part of their development. And the implications. I mean, again, when I look at my nine year old, and I hear her talking about these things, and she talked to me even just last night about, you know, sometimes I have these feelings that I think teenagers have, have, I just, I sometimes feel depressed, or I feel sad, and I really don't know why I'm fine, one minute and not the other. And I think, one again, like, gosh, how is this happening so early, but really the implications of when you, you know, left school and you had all the friends, and you were doing all of the things in school was fun. And everyone, yes, people misbehaved, but everybody got along, and now we're back into school, and they're friends. And there are cliques. And there are expectations around peer group interaction, and you feel like you're on the periphery, of course, that's going to have an impact on you. And so I think, you know, for me, the the first thing is, we have to validate that we have to acknowledge that as the implication for these, these kiddos. And again, not just assume that, well, we can stick them back in and the teachers will figure it out, or the counselors at school will figure it out. But that there really is an implication for that. And I and I would say even beyond pandemic, I think we're talking about because of the vast exposure that kids have now to all sorts of things. It is they're aware of things that earlier ages, and I think they are feeling things and again, don't have that vocabulary don't have that ability to regulate and understand what it means. So they see things, you know, on the news, and are feeling like why is this happening? And they're not having those conversations, they're not coming to you and saying, Hey, Mom, I really want to understand why Russia is doing this. But it is something that's having an impact on them. So I think it's really, you know, I think that's what we're seeing, I think that's why we're recognizing that anxiety and depression are existing for these kiddos is just the level of exposure to things that they aren't seeing and, and feeling in times that are very real to them. And we just don't have the tools and we just don't think have evolved in society to a way that we can support that. I think it's just easy to dismiss that as, you know, kids acting out or having angst or being difficult because that feels like what we do when we don't have the answer. You Yeah, it's
it's tough. I mean, dig into this coat. This generation has just also experienced so much in terms of exposure to school shootings, and yeah, just a lot of a lot of, you know, depending on where you live to just like natural disaster traumas and things like that. So yeah, it's, um, they got a lot going on, I feel for them,
too. And again, just that, that lack of bubble, I feel like, you know, when I was growing up, I just had that bubble, I had a small community, I had parents, you know, again, all coming from a very privileged background, so I own that piece of it too. But, you know, my world was very small. And I speak often about my own development. Like when I went to grad school, that's when I really had exposure for many things, too, you know, for a vast majority of concepts and, and elements in my life. And I think, you know, my kiddos are born in that, like, they live in a sea and do and experience things that I, it took me being, you know, 23 years old and in grad school to see and know and learn. So I think that has to have an impact, right? It's gonna for sure gonna have an impact.
Yeah, absolutely. Another thing I'm curious is about what he, this, this relates to I do a lot of work around motherhood. And one of the things that comes up around that a lot is gender socialization and how we're socialized to gender at a very, very young age. I mean, certainly, you know, before middle childhood even but I'm curious, you meant you were talking about gender identity. But I'm curious about what you are seeing with gender socialization that's happening at this, at this age, middle, both range ages, like middle childhood through adolescence, what are some sort of things that are happening? What do you see that might be different? I mean, things have shifted and changed a lot. So maybe we are seeing some differences. But some of those, those gender socialization, social roles, you know, our gender roles are very deeply ingrained. And I'm always curious when we'll start really seeing significant shifts in that. Yeah. Which would have to start at this young age.
Yeah, I mean, I think, again, the research plays out even from the past 10 years, we've had really significant shifts in what gender identity is what that means, when you develop that when you have to identify as anything, what what your options are, in terms of identification, you know, that there was the gender binary was such a thing for so long. And even still is I think that's the other piece, I think you're kind of seeing this splintering of our real awareness of gender identity as a formative space of freedom. You know, I see a lot of kids talk about it now, in like, you know, this is what I'm trying on. And I know, even with my own kids, like, we've always said, you know, oh, he has long hair, it's okay, that he has long hair, boys can have long hair, you know, try to normalize that. So I think they're seeing that, and they are having those conversations at earlier ages, and just saying, you know, of course, that's acceptable, why would that not be? And so that is really good. I think the other piece is where we have, again, really ingrained ideology around either gender binary or gender roles, and what that expectation is, and so depending on where the child is raised, that has implications for them, because they're getting this messaging of No, this is okay. And you can take your time, and you can figure this out. And you can question and you can, you know, you are who you are, and yet, no, you can't be you have to kind of live in this this mold or model, or again, very, you know, families that are very affirming and very supportive. So, to me, it's kind of this really unique space of we have so much more language behind it. So much more awareness of the continuum, the gender continuum, the fact that gender roles really have shifted, and we just see that, you know, there's not a way that this has to be done. So in many ways, I think we've made vast progress. But I also think that the, the place where you're going to see this pinch is like the case study client dev who has family who's come from a very traditional culture, and that is that is meaningful and valuable to them and part of who they are, and how do they then grapple with? How do we love this child, and also hold to these belief systems that we have to so that that's, you know, the implications are pretty significant for anyone developing in that space.
Yeah, and, you know, I'm curious about, you talked about your experience as a private practice clinician and working out in the community. And I'm curious about the role thinking about how like, school counselors can support these kiddos because they are truly there in their day in and day out. And I know, there's a lot of support needed and curious about what your thoughts are clinically around, you know, any counselors, but I was just thinking school counselors are usually so close to that group.
They really are. And they're their frontline. And they're accessible, I hope to, you know, to everyone, which is really what is needed. Because I think when you think about privilege, that's that's the other piece of it. You know, I think it really kind of goes back to that, that initial conversation about just being able to affirm being able to be that safe place, being able to talk through and be it and, you know, offer a student this space to explore and ask questions that are not comfortable and okay to ask at home or with peers or with teachers, even who who might have preconceived notions of things. It really is, I think, important for that school counselor to have that environment that really allows for questioning, and really supporting kind of that that developmental process and recognizing, again, that's going to vary from student to student in terms of you know where they are, and that their own age and not to kind of lock that in, I think being open to those conversations early. And it and doing what they already do, which is recognizing that behavioral outbursts and responses are often indicators of things that are going on internally, and really trying to afford some space for that. And that's tricky, because, you know, counselors, especially school counselors are taxed with a lot and got a lot of kiddos. And it's not like in private practice where I could have a one on one conversation with parents, you know, you're managing a whole lot. So I think it just becomes how do I, how do I give them a safe space here? To the extent that I possibly can and understanding that there's a lot going on out in the world that they may not have that same access to information on?
Yeah, and I'm curious about just other, you know, counseling approaches that you think work really well with this stage of life? Or, yeah, I guess just what, yeah, leave counselors with.
I mean, I think the other piece of it too, as much as I have spoken to affirming and really giving space for exploration, and I think that's critical, still recognizing this as a developmental period, where they need boundaries, and they need structure, and they need, you know, to know what rules are that that kind of cognitive development that moral development is still something to factor in. So it can't be just the hands off, we're going to let you do anything that you want, and call it identity exploration and development. It really is setting some some safe boundaries and letting people kind of bounce in between each of those along the way and really recognizing that it is something that allows for safe again, that safe operation but really knowing that there are limits to what can and can't be done or what what the behavioral implications are, too. So I think that's the other piece of it, you know, we can't move away from there is a role to play for adults in you know, middle school and or lower middle childhood and adolescence life as well.
Yeah, well, I know I'm very excited to get this book, as I hope it will help with my own counseling work. I'm, I work with them as adults, so I get the results of whatever was happening in their childhood, but also just even as a parent, it's nice to have a different way to think about lifespan development at this young age. So I'm so appreciative for you being here today, Dr. Kenan to share with us your work and all the best.
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