I am proud to be a University of Waterloo grad ('91)! Here is a nice feature of the Just Enough Series in the recent alumni newsletter written by Dana Ciak:
I have also copied the article below :)
Psychologist Jillian Roberts (BA ’91) helped parents around the world reduce the awkwardness of explaining to children ages 6 to 10, where babies come from with her app, The Facts of Life, which tells the story of how babies are made using a story-telling approach and gentle, familiar imagery. Facts of Life hit Top App status on iTunes in the Educational Category in 2014 and is sold around the world in different languages.
Jillian recently published her latest children’s book, What Makes Us Unique? Our First Talk About Diversity, which promotes pro-diversity and inclusive values in children as part of her children’s book series, Just Enough.
While working on her books and apps, Jillian is also a tenured associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria and a practicing psychologist.
Alumni Relations had the chance to chat with Jillian about her work and life after Waterloo.
Since we last spoke two years ago, you have gone on to publish children’s books as part of your Just Enough series which helps caregivers broach challenging subjects with children. Can you tell us more about these books?
The success of the first Facts of Life app was amazing and the extent of the success was unexpected. It ended up being downloaded over 33,000 times. The success of the app lead me to write the Just Enough Series for Orca Book Publishers. This series is designed to help parents and teachers begin conversations about difficult topics with young children. The books in the series contain just enough information to facilitate a meaningful first conversation, an entry point into the topic that is gentle and accessible. The books in the series include:
Where Do Babies Come From? Our First Talk About Birth
What Happens When a Loved One Dies? Our First Talk About Death
What Makes Us Unique? Our First Talk About Diversity
All three of these books have become best sellers. The next in the series is, Why Do Families Change? Our First Talk About Separation and Divorce, which comes out in Spring 2017. I am now represented by Joelle DelBourgo in New York to write related books for the adult market and working on another app.
What do you see are the latest trends in child development and psychology?
So much of what I learned in graduate school to become a psychologist is no longer relevant. There are significant consequences for children and families as a result of the Internet and the technological explosion that has been happening in our world. New guidelines and new and different kinds of advice are needed for families. I have begun to understand that the changes taking place in the parental landscape are “VUCA” —an acronym which stands for volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. I believe that parents and teachers need new tools to navigate this VUCA world.
This realization set my career onto a different path—a path where I began to think through the consequences of the 21st-century and apply all of my knowledge and skills as a professor and psychologist to help create navigational tools for parents and teachers. The books in the Just Enough series are some of these tools.
When do you think is a good time for parents to start reading these stories with their children?
As early as possible! I believe that parents need to talk to their children about important life topics before their children learn from the varied and unpredictable sources online. When parents talk to their children early, they help to create a pattern of communication which can continue through the developmental course of their children. Early conversations reduce stigma and they strengthen the parent-child bond.
You also have a blog where you tackle some difficult topics and questions from parents. How has the blog helped you reach a wider audience on these important topics?
The blog—and social media in general— have been amazing tools for connecting with people and other professionals who care about these same topics. I have been able to connect with concerned parents and like-minded advocates from around the world. The blog receives about 1000 new readers each week. Consequently, I am able to connect with far more people than I have ever been able to in my clinical office or university theatre alone.
On top of being a successful author, you also teach at the University of Victoria, practice children’s psychology, and are a mother of three. How do you manage so many roles?
It is a challenge! I am lucky to have a devoted partner, a loving family, a loyal group of friends and an inspiring faith community who have been steadfast supports along the way. It is not possible to do this kind of work without a strong support network.
As a successful psychologist, what advice do you have for students or young alumni who want to work in a similar field?
I am tremendously grateful for having chosen my field and profession. I believe that psychology and mental health will be among the most important fields of study in the 21st century. I would encourage each and every student to think carefully about psychology as a major or minor. The career possibilities are endless, as are the opportunities for having a real impact in the community.