Fatherhood & Faith: Rearing Good Kids in a Secular Society

These are my notes from “Fatherhood & Faith: Rearing Good Kids in a Secular Society” by George Holden, a psychology professor at SMU at the 2011 MoRanch Men’s Conference near Hunt, Texas. http://www.moranch.com

More of my notes from the MoRanch Conference are available on Eyes Right:
http://pocketshare.speedofcreativity.org/

Opening Quotations from:
Rev Timothy Dwight
Clarence Darrow
Kurt Warner

George is a developmental psychologist, educated at Yale and UNC Chapel Hill, before SMU he taught at UT Austin for 20+ years

Outline – Parenting 101 Concepts
– Values & Discipline, Sibling Relations, Marital Conflict

Significance of parenting
– parenting is the most important thing we will do in our lifetimes – bad parenting has many links to behavioral problems, mental health problems, obesity, underachievement,more…

Parenting defined: “an ongoing dynamic process, consisting of guiding your child on pathways leading toward the goals of being a healthy, happy, competent, productive and spiritual adult.”

Positive developmental pathways / roads are the key

Components of basic parenting
– responding
– preventing
– monitoring
– mentoring
– modeling

In grad school I studied parents who effectively managed their young children in the supermarket
– many kinds of proactive, preventative behaviors were used

Monitoring key to redirect children on good pathways

we can’t expect our kids to have behaviors we don’t model ourselves Ways parents influence development
– love and nurturance
– direct instruction: skills, discipline, values (over meals, in conversations, verbalize beliefs and don’t assume kids read minds and know why we value things)
– indirect instruction (modeling)
– control of opportunities (environment, exposure)

But genes and social influences also play a big role

Fathers
– dimensions of involvement (accessibility – presence and availability)
– engagement (actual behavior)
– Responsibility (executive decisions, monitoring, arrangements, Types of fathers
– uninterested and unavailable
– traditional
– assistant parent
– co-parent
– primary care parent

16% of dads today in the US are primary care, stay-at-home dads

Issues
– In what ways does our secular society create problems for parents with faith?

Busyness
Materialism
Sex and violence (kids exposed earlier to this)
Consumerism

Values and Discipline

How do children learn values
– direct instruction
– observational learning
– reward / punishment
– others

“Preach the Gospel at all times, If necessary, use words.” (no citation)

Teaching Values
– determine values you want to teach
– more…

Purposes of discipline
– teach appropriate behavior
– eliminate unwanted behaviors
– develop intrinsic motivations

To be effective discipline should be
– immediate
– consistent
– teaches a lesson
– maintains respect for the child
– rewards good behavior

Common Parental Errors
– escalating with coercion (not a good long term strategy)
– failing to reinforce desired behavior (attention is one of the most powerful, positive motivators
– inadvertantly reinforce undesired behaviors

Spanking is linked to unintended consequences
– more likely to use violence with peers
– some become depressed and anxious
– models aggression
– not teach kids how to behave
– ineffective because one cannot follow correct learning principles (immediate, consistent, harsh)
– it doesn’t promote positive parent-child relations

orient toward positive relations
– promote positive, reciprocal relationships
– avoid coercive patterns
– discipline should be based on values

Process of value internalization for kids:
– Child understands the value
– Child accepts the value
– Value is supported through discipline

80% of families have siblings

Parenting strategies for sibling rivalry:
– monitor from afar
– create consequences and stick to them
– make individual space for them
– make individual time for them
– encourage different interests

Families are social systems

MY THOUGHT: I WISH GEORGE HAD A WEBSITE WHERE HIS RESOURCES, INCLUDING SLIDES, WERE AVAILABLE. THIS SHOULD BE A BEST PRACTICE FOR CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS OF ALL KINDS.

THIS PRESENTATION DRIVES HOME THE THEME THAT DIALOG BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN IS THE KEY

Emotions are elicited in relation to our goals
– if goals are met, that produces positive emotions
– if goals are threatened or blocked, negative emotions exist

Emotions are a basic part of life and important for competent functioning

Destructive forms of marital conflict
– aggression
– intense anger
– escalation
– withdrawal
– child blaming
– lack of resolution

Constructive forms of marital conflict
– mutual respect
– emotional modulation (not blowing up)
– positive communications
– resolution or progress toward
– agreeing to disagree

The Six Basic Skills
– leveling – clear, constructive and simple – focusing, one issue at a time
– validating, expressing value to partner perspective
– editing, controlling reactions to partner message
– giving feedback, paraphrasing, asking for elaboration, strategies to promote dialog
– display and verbalize love

Common pitfalls
– negativity – stonewalling
– withdrawal Marital conflict affects children by threatening their sense of security
– it is important for kids to witness some constructive disagreement, seeing the outcome can be positive

John B Watson quotation: The rearing of children is more difficult than all other professions, even law

George’s book costs $70: Parenting A Dynamic Perspective
http://books.google.com/books?id=aPy2MURvaZIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Parentin…&q&f=false

George is organizing Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline http://smu.edu/psychology/html/globalSummit.html

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