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Whatever Happened to Parental Authority?

Parental AuthorityBy Rich Simon It seems astonishing that even just two or three decades ago, parents not only pretty much knew what was expected of them to turn their offspring into civilized adults, but they could actually count on society to back them up. Even more astounding, kids seemed to understand this, too. Even if they rebelled against, yelled about, or sullenly resented how “unfair” adults were, they seemed to acknowledge adult authority and realize that they would just have to wait until they turned 18 to get for themselves the keys to the kingdom of grown-up independence.

Now, all that seems as antiquated as an old Hallmark card, and parents increasingly feel like clueless, helpless bystanders in their own kids’ lives. The traditional contract between parents and society, buttressed by school and other social authorities, seems to be a dead letter. Kids today belong to their own digitally-crazed youth tribe, which parents can hardly understand, much less penetrate, or even remotely control. And parents aren’t the only ones who feel incompetent and unprepared in the child-raising and training department—so do teachers, counselors, and even therapists, all supposedly experts on the hearts and minds of kids.

The unhappy result tends to be a perfect storm of mutual blame: Teachers, school administrators, and other parents all blame parents for “not taking charge” of their kids, while parents blame the “experts” for not seeing how isolated and powerless they are when facing down a perfect storm of social, economic, and cultural forces that have long since virtually demolished individual family authority.

If therapists are to genuinely help parents and children, we can no longer count on the models, theories, approaches, and clinical habits we’ve comfortably used over the years. Approaches focusing strictly on individual family pathology just won’t cut it anymore. In our webcast series, Techniques for Helping Today’s Parents, we bring together experts like Dan Siegel, Ron Taffel, Sherry Turkle, and others to focus on “Big Picture” therapy—looking at not only individual family dynamics, but also the general isolation of most parents, the breakdown of traditional patterns of authority, the ubiquity of social media (not to mention the endemic bullying that goes with it), and the vastly increased role of large institutions in the lives of families.

We’ll also focus on the clinical innovations that have emerged over the past couple of decades, including advances in our understanding of the processes of human attachment and child development, the emergence of more kid-friendly approaches to treatment, and new ways of translating the latest discoveries in brain science into practical parenting advice.

Kids seem daunting these days—far more knowing, sophisticated, in-your-face, and mouthy than we were as kids (at least that’s the way we remember it). But, we need to remember, they are still kids, and to them, the world feels even more out of control than it does to us. They need and secretly want their parents to be in charge; it’s just that taking charge is a lot trickier, more complicated, and just plain different than it was in those perfect, utterly untroubled days of our own childhoods.

To find out what works clinically today, rather than might have worked 20 or 30 years ago, join us for Techniques for Helping Today’s Parents.

Techniques for Helping Today’s Parents
New Family Approaches That Really Work
All Sessions Available July 11th
Click here for full course details.

Save $19.99 When You Register
Before Midnight, Tuesday, June 18th
Use Code: PARENT19

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2 Responses to Whatever Happened to Parental Authority?

  1. With over 33 years experience as a teacher, coach, and principal in K thru 12 schools and two children in their late 30′s, I published a guide (there is no handbook) for raising children for the 21st century. We have sold out the first three editions and received over 105 testimonials (14 are on the book’s website) from parents, teachers, and grandparents buying the book for their children raising grandchildren! Check out my websites and advertise my book as you see fit. If you would like a complimentary copy, let me know. Thanks!

  2. With over 33 years experience as a teacher, coach, and principal in K thru 12 schools and two children in their late 30′s, I published a guide (there is no handbook) for raising children for the 21st century. We have sold out the first three editions and received over 105 testimonials (14 are on the book’s website) from parents, teachers, and grandparents buying the book for their children raising grandchildren! Check out my websites and advertise my book as you see fit. If you would like a complimentary copy, let me know. Thanks!

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