Two important groups of women recently gave me opportunities to meet with them. Since these were back-to-back events, I’m writing about them together.
First was a local book group. Following a fabulous potluck supper, our host’s beautiful home provided the perfect setting for a reading and discussion. The lively chatter over dinner quickly became serious—but still equally lively!—as we discussed the book.
Second was a women’s group that meets monthly in a nearby synagogue. Over lunch I read a story and then we had a discussion.
Both groups overflowed with thoughtful questions and comments. At each event there was a discussion about how unusual it was to have a school partner with a local Planned Parenthood, bringing an educator into the school to meet privately with students to help ensure that every student graduates without being involved in a pregnancy and without contracting a STI. It is unusual; I’ve never heard of another school that offers that. Yet I believe it is as vital as everything else that happens routinely in high schools, and part of why I wrote the book is that I envision it in every school. There were parents, educators, and counselors present, and I was thankful for the opportunity to point out that it was not as controversial a program as many would assume; parents deeply appreciated the service we provided. Parents I served, and parents, teachers, and counselors present in the room, understand that sometimes it’s easier for a teen to talk about something as private as sexuality with and outsider who has no personal stake in the outcome, with someone they don’t have to worry about disappointing, yet someone with accurate information. Gratitude from parents is way more common than anger, and I treasure every opportunity I get to share that observation with people.
Parents appreciated the patience with which I listened to teens, and acknowledged how tempting it is to simply tell teens what to do instead of patiently guiding them through an effective thinking process, helping them figure things out for themselves.
In response to the frequency of my need to support my teen and adult clients regarding their misunderstanding of basic information received from medical providers, one doctor asked about the takeaway messages for doctors in other fields of medicine. The question gave me the opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of the ‘Teach-Back Technique,” in which someone in the medical setting asks the patient a few key questions at the end of the visit, designed to get the patient to use their own words in stating what they heard, how they’ll follow up. This identifies potential problems before they occur and provides an opportunity to prevent them.
Heartfelt thanks to my hosts and participants. If you have a group—a book group, a faith group, a social justice group, a college class: any group!—that would benefit from an author visit, please contact me.