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Dr. Ron Taffel: Childhood Unbound: Raising Strong and Compassionate Kids—Confident Parenting in a Tough 21st Century World

Dr. Ron Taffel, a nationally known child rearing expert, will present a FREE parenting workshop on Thursday, April 4 at 7 pm at Temple Beth-El in Providence entitled, Childhood Unbound: Raising Strong and Compassionate Kids—Confident Parenting in a Tough 21st Century World.

Dr. Ron Taffel, a nationally known child rearing expert, will present a FREE parenting workshop on Thursday, April 4 at 7 pm  at Temple Beth-El in Providence entitled, Childhood Unbound: Raising Strong and Compassionate Kids–Confident Parenting in a Tough 21st Century World. Learn more about Dr. Ron Taffel and his philosophy in this article by Nancy Kirsch
 first published in The Jewish Voice & Herald, March 15, 2013. – Anisa

Raising children presents a host of challenges, even if your children are the smartest, happiest, most athletic and well-adjusted children in the neighborhood!

9781416559283Most post-Baby Boomer parents worry about their children: Will they do well in school? Will they have friends? What will happen to them as adults?

Ron Taffel, Ph.D., a nationally known child and family therapist, will be in Rhode Island to offer proven, practical advice to address parents’ anxieties and worries.

In addition to writing several books and hundreds of columns about parenting, Taffel has given more than 1,000 consultations and presentations to parent groups and professional organizations.

In a community-wide forum on April 4 at 7 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 70 Orchard Ave., in Providence, Taffel will discuss how parents can help their children — from ages  5 to 18 — be happy, compassionate and resilient in these difficult times.

In a phone interview from his New York-area home, Taffel explained that his presentation, “Childhood Unbound: Raising Strong and Compassionate Kids — Confident Parenting in a Tough 21st Century World,” will focus, in part, on the stressors associated with the closing months of the school year, when children — and their parents — experience added anxieties.

Q: What are the issues that most worry parents today?

A: We’re living in a world where some of the social compact — ‘Work hard, go to a good school and you’ll get ahead’ — has been frayed and torn. This is the first generation of children who are not expected to outpace their parents in income and socioeconomic status.

Parents begin to worry about their children’s future when the kids are in kindergarten.They ask, ‘How can I get my values and a sense of strength and grit in my child so that he or she can survive this hyper-competitive world? They worry that their children will be left behind academically, socially and, later, professionally. With change happening so quickly and family life so fragmented, parents don’t have a sense of what works, and they’re uncertain about what to do. Their parents, however, shared a certitude in what was right; they didn’t question their own parenting decisions.

Children today are much more willing to speak openly and to talk back to their parents, whose own parents would never have tolerated such openness from their children. And, children today, who are more philanthropic than were their parents as children, are exposed to so many more influences at young ages than were their parents.

Q: Do Jewish parents worry more or have different concerns than do other parents?

A: I found it surprising that parental concerns are more similar than they are different, even among very diverse demographic groups.  Jewish parents don’t worry any more than other parents do.

Q: You’ve been doing this work — speaking and writing about parenting — for more than 20 years. How have societal changes, such as different family groupings (divorce, single parenting, same-sex couples, etc.) and the explosion of technology, changed parenting advice, if at all?

A: Beginning in the 1990s, I started to see a shift, of changes in families and kids, that directly challenged the parenting advice parents were receiving.

My advice, which was different from other experts’, focused on what I called ‘the second family’ — a child’s peer group, technology and pop culture. That ‘second family’ is often more powerful than ‘the first family’ —  parents, siblings, etc.

At the same time that parents began to feel out-of-control, many of them had less access to, and time with, their children, due to single parenting, longer commutes between work and home as suburbs grew and as they competed with technology for their children’s time and attention.

‘The second family’ exerts strong influences over children, many of whom can identify consumer products and sing jingles at 18-months-old.

And these parents, whose narratives and life experiences as children were wholly different than their children’s, needed guidance in how to balance love and authority — and be able to connect with their children — in ways that felt right and authentic to them.

Q: What can parents expect if they come to hear you?

A: They will get very practical and concrete strategies for: effective discipline, keeping the lines of communication open, instilling genuine self-esteem in their children and more. In addition, I will offer some specific strategies and tips for getting through the end of the school year transition.

I hope that some parenting peer groups will get started; even if the groups meet only a few times a year to talk about everyday life, parents won’t feel so alone and lacking in community.

Bring a friend, a sister, a colleague; be prepared to take lots of notes!

TAFFEL’S VISIT TO Providence is sponsored by Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, Shalom Family (a program of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island), the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, Congregation Agudas Achim, Congregation Beth Sholom, Temple Am David and Temple Torat Yisrael.

INFORMATION: 331-1244 or behiye@jfsri.org. RSVPs are requested, but not necessary.

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