Speaking to parents across the country for more than two decades, one of the nation’s most sought-after child experts says he began witnessing a generational shift that changes how we parent. A parent himself, Ron Taffel is tired of the names the first set of post-boomer parents are called, among them helicopter parents, soccer moms and doormats.
Rather, parents today are raising kids in what Taffel dubs the "freest generation"—kids who feel free to say what they want, including to their parents, who have a sense of entitlement and negotiate endlessly. These kids also are more articulate, have a strong sense of ethics and are more giving than any generation before, he says.
"You need to really be more certain and clear about what works and won’t work with these 21st century kids. That’s what the book is about," Taffel says about his latest, Childhood Unbound, Saving Our Kids’ Best Selves—Confident Parenting in a World of Change (Free Press, January 2009).
The good news: "This group of parents has the best chance of understanding and raising these children than any other parental group I’ve ever worked with."
Among the changes for parents to consider, he says:
• Kids today want our advice. We just have to say it in the right way.
• Kids want limits. "Today’s kids need to learn how to earn their privileges rather than have things taken away. They work much better with the notion of earning privileges rather than a sense of entitlement for them."
• Kids today want us to acknowledge their efforts, but not with cheap praise or awards for everything they do. "When you are able to love and limit and listen and create community in these ways, kids’ better selves show up and, the thing that’s really important, so do our better selves as parents."