If you're the parent of a school-age child, chances are you know Mindy Thomas. Her podcast, Wow in the World, has been making science fun for kids since 2017, and she and her co-host Guy Raz recently published the best-selling book Wow in the World, the How and Wow of the Human Body. Aside from teaching kids through her work, Thomas is raising two of her own: a 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.
On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Thomas talks to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about the importance of learning from children and why she considers her kids friends.
"It is just as important to learn from your kids as it is to model how to be a human to them," Thomas says to Tenety, "especially this generation of kids that's growing up in a world that's completely different from the world that we grew up in."
"These kids are smart and they're savvy and they're so, so thoughtful in a way that I don't know that I was, I don't know that my friends were as kids," she continues. "So as a parent, I'm a fierce protector of childhood, but at the same time, I don't treat childhood like this precious thing where I want to just keep kids innocent at all costs."
Both her podcast and book do a good job of giving young people facts in easily digestible, fun ways. And sometimes, she wishes adults would act more like children and ask questions or admit when they don't know something.
"[Adults] are so afraid to say, 'I don't know,' whether it's to their kids or in a meeting or to a coworker or another adult," she says. "We don't know. We're all just making it up and we're figuring it out. So, I wish that there was like a week when we would take cues from kids and just be okay with what we don't know and know that there's plenty left to learn. And we're always going to be learning."
For Thomas, that goes hand in hand with being friends with her kids—something she knows "experts" frown upon. "You made these people, you should like them," she says bluntly. "And I always tell my husband, we always have to be looking ahead and I want to have a close relationship with my kids as they get older."
She also hopes that her work can help spark discussions between parents and kids. "If whatever we've done leads to a caregiver and a kid having a conversation about something or sharing something that they didn't already know or that you might not already know, then our job is done," she says.
To hear more about Thomas's experiences in motherhood and her career, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.