A new approach to 21st century parenting,
from one of the country’s most sought-after child-rearing experts

CHILDHOOD UNBOUND

Saving Our Kids’ Best Selves—
Confident Parenting in a World of Change

By Ron Taffel, Ph.D.

Reviews

As a careful observer, counselor, and social watchdog, Taffel gives hope and solid advice to the millions of post–baby boomer parents who feel helpless. Readers will come away understanding ways to listen, act, cope, appreciate, and love their kids. Recommended
—Library Journal

“Taffel is one the rare experts in the country who is really listening to children, teens, and parents describe the everyday yet profoundly difficult, complex, and challenging situations we all experience…He is able to give unique insight and feedback so we can be in healthier relationships with the most important people in our lives.”
Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabees

“No one has thought more deeply about the dilemmas of the modern parent and child than Ron Taffel. In this frank, funny, and comforting book, he tackles the most troubling problems we face as modern parents. He writes beautifully, and his parenting advice is wise and, best of all, practical. I recommend Childhood Unbound to every loving, struggling parent—and that’s all of us!”
Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain

“I applaud Dr. Taffel for writing a book that addresses the major difference between our current generations. Our children have grown up in a much different environment than we did, and it’s great that he has taken all of those factors into consideration and applied them in this book.”
—Maria Shriver

“Ron Taffel has written an important book that offers a fresh and wise perspective on the challenges of raising children today, as well as excellent advice about how we can best guide them through the treacherous terrain of their ever-more-demanding lives. I highly recommend Childhood Unbound.”
Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls

“In his remarkable new book, renowned psychologist Ron Taffel skillfully and perceptively captures the struggles and challenges faced by parents as they interact with kids who are much different from youngsters a generation ago. This book will serve as a major resource not only for parents but for professionals as well who interact with today’s children and adolescents.”
Robert Brooks, Ph.D., faculty at Harvard Medical School, co-author of Raising Resilient Children and Raising a Self-Disciplined Child

“An engaging read on how society and parents working together can raise healthy children during challenging times.”
Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children’s Center

“Childrearing needs a new approach to match a powerful generational shift and daunting 21st century challenges,” writes Ron Taffel. Adults find themselves faced with children and teens who simultaneously “stun and delight.” Kids of all ages can be “coarse, crude, jarring and wild”-- yet they are also “far more open with their parents and each other than kids in prior times, they are strikingly generous and empathetic, care deeply about ethical issues, and with their high-speed multi-tasking prepare for twenty-first-century life.” As parents struggle to understand kids’ confusing behavior, they are besieged by conflicting schools of advice. But challenge creates possibility. Dr. Ron Taffel—one of the country’s most sought-after child-rearing experts—tells a compelling story of discovery garnered from seeing a decades-long shift in kids and parents nationwide. Taffel argues that the dynamics of today’s parent-child relationship are fundamentally different and surprisingly more hopeful than in the past and in CHILDHOOD UNBOUND: Saving Our Kids’ Best Selves—Confident Parenting in a World of Change (Free Press; January 6, 2009; $26.00), he presents a groundbreaking approach to bringing out both 21st century kids and parents “best selves.”

From the mid-nineties on Taffel observed that kids were becoming different: free-er -- for much better and much worse -- kids who seemed to ‘know no bounds.’ The startling accuracy of his observations was acclaimed by parents and professionals alike. Two plus years ago Taffel finally understood not only what he saw, but why -- that from the early nineties children and teens coming up were born to the first generation of “post-boomer” parents, themselves products of massive social change, fundamentally similar to their kids—the explosion of suburbia, exurbia, divorce, moms in the workforce, geographic relocation, ATM machines, over-scheduled lives, technology, diversity and globalization. Without the generation-gap of previous eras, then, parents today are the most capable yet of guiding and understanding kids from the inside out – but, in such trying times we all need help in creating a new parental confidence.

To become their best selves, today’s children require and expect “authentic engagement” in order to properly address the challenges they face—the endless choice; parallel lives within families; the loss of close kinship, neighborhood and town; the increasing anxiety of everyday life. In CHILDHOOD UNBOUND, Taffel addresses four key areas of engagement, supplementing his approach with examples from families nationwide, and kids and parents he’s counseled over the years, including quizzes and exercises, tips and techniques, and additional resources for readers. The four areas of engagement are:

A New Engaged Loving: Love must be shown in ways that match today’s realities. Parents can get through by being as ‘real as a reality TV show.’ Love is expressing concern, disappointment, and demands in authentic, dramatic ways – or adults won’t be heard; expect empathy for themselves – a parent’s basic right; use irreverent humor or even rudeness when justified – to build closeness; learn exactly how to give the advice that today’s kids experience as love and need to feel held.

Engagement through Limiting: Parents must ask that kids earn privileges, rather than continuing to see them as entitlements; master the art of ‘video-game’ learning – a powerhouse combination of clear expectations and nonmaterial rewards that modern children and teens need, learn how to praise appropriately --and threaten less; use the pop culture as an ally to teach values and motivate; learn how to guard ‘the family envelope’ from external intrusion and internal distractions.

Engagement through Listening: Taffel demonstrates what prevents the free-est generation from opening up to their post-boomer parents as much they would like; the ability to identify a child’s hard-wired conversational-style and use it to strengthen openness, the secrets of making those endless transitions (the new real) count, down-time (forget quality time) & superficiality to create conversation, (turning nothing into something), establishing modern rituals that connect – in today’s harried families.

Engagement through Community: Adults must first re-engage each other to bring together the circles of community: home, school, faith communities, work, and even the Internet. Nationwide we are beginning to do this, rebuild community – 21st century style. With step-by-step examples, suggestions and contributions by national experts, parents will learn how to implement practical community initiatives that strengthen kids of all ages and their families – in ways that fit these times.

By explaining how to give children and teens loving advice, implement limits that actually work, develop a child’s trustworthiness, engage in essential communication, and rebuild a community of families, CHILDHOOD UNBOUND offers the authoritative new guidance parents have been looking for.

About the Author

Dr. Ron Taffel is a child and family therapist and Chair of The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City. His parenting workshops have been featured on 20/20 and Dateline NBC; he has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Primetime Live and Larry King Live. He has been hailed as “a Spock for our time” (New Woman) and “a genius addressing all the issues of family lifer: (Child).