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If you missed Ron Taffel, read this:

Ron Taffel, noted psychologist and author of “Parenting by Heart” and “The Second Family” was invited to speak to the community on November 19th at the Scarsdale Middle School.  He immediately established a wonderful rapport with the large audience and opened by joking that he had actually left the city two days ago – and that his full head of gray hair was black at the onset of his trip. Apparently the car he was in broke down at the tollbooth of the Henry Hudson bridge and he feared he wouldn’t make it to Scarsdale– but luckily for us, he did.  Drawing from years of experience and his books, Taffel provided the audience with some valuable advice on raising children in the 21st century.


Taffel feels that much has changed in the child-rearing arena since he began addressing groups in the mid-1990’s. Since that time, he believes the influence of the “second family” has grown and that children are highly influenced by their peers, culture and the internet.  As current parents of school-age children were born after the baby boom, he dubbed our kids as the children of  “post-boomers,” and contended that they are removed from the rules and formalities that defined our own upbringing. Kids today have more freedom and fewer responsibilities than their parents did at the same age, and are highly influenced by the media.  With the constant intrusion of technology in their lives, they have shorter attention spans and often look for immediate gratification.

He feels that many parents today function as logistical engineers and managers rather than role models and authority figures. Parents spend time organizing activities, making arrangements and transporting children from place to place, and fail to establish strong personal relationships with their own kids.  According to Taffel, the challenge of parenting today is to establish three-dimensional relationships with your children, where they see who you are and in turn, you recognize them for the unique people they are.

He urged parents to recognize their children’s temperament and use that knowledge to help them to grow into their best selves. He identified four types of children…active, shy, sensitive or tenacious, and recommended that parents accept their children’s dispositions and help them develop.  For instance, he relayed that his son only ate what he called “bar food, “ i.e. chips, nuts and junk, until he became a teenager. Rather than make his eating habits the subject of continual family strife, Taffel and his wife accepted his son’s diet, and eventually the child came around, began to eat a varied diet and thanked his Dad for permitting him to eat what he wanted for the last ten years.

Taffel also emphasized the importance of conveying love to your children, sometimes in a dramatic way so that the love was sure to come through.  He asked the audience for their ideas on expressing love and they were quite creative suggesting that they use their sense of humor or songs to transmit love.  Taffel suggested that family dinners are an important time to talk about yourself and convey your feelings about your life to your children.

When discipline is needed, Taffel advised parents to make enforceable rules and realistic punishments that are not formulated in the heat of an argument. If you do get into a fight with a child, he recommends that you detach yourself to calm yourself down, take deep breaths, speak quietly, or do whatever it takes to diffuse the anger. He also advised parents to discuss the fight with their child in a calm moment later on – to explain your reaction and discuss how the situation could be dealt with differently in the future.

Because many children do expect immediate gratification, he feels that we tend to over-praise them for tasks that require little effort. He contends that it is best to save the praise for accomplishments that require real or sustained effort, especially when they overcome a task that may be difficult due to their temperament.

In conclusion, he encouraged us to protect our day so that there is “sacred time” to listen to your children while accepting their conversational style. According to Taffel, if you build time into your day to relate to your children, he predicted that ultimately they would come to you, without being asked, and let you know what’s on their minds.  By creating “human relationships” with our kids, we can attain a level of engagement in which we can convey our values and let our children see our true selves.

See Ron Taffel’s books on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ron+taffel&x=0&y=0<-->

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