8 Keys to Old School Parenting for Modern Day Families

8 Keys to Old School Parenting for Modern Day Families

No, this isn’t about smacking your kids around.  It is about bringing back something that we seem to have lost — raising children to meet high standards. Several generations of parents have been told that they should be “child-centered” — that is, that too much parental direction will damage children’s self-esteem, creativity, autonomy, independence and so forth.  As a result, parents have tended to follow their children’s lead, to lavish them in praise, to protect them from difficult feelings, and to give in to their wants.  This has produced generations of children who are self-focused, entitled, and unable to cope with life’s difficulties.  The answer to this problem is to reinvent the time honored traditions of limit setting, authoritative (not authoritarian) parenting, and character development.  This book will teach parents how to set limits, how to parent with loving guidance, how to be both demanding and responsive, and how to promote social development by teaching children conflict management strategies.

“8 Keys to Old School Parenting for Modern-Day Families may be the most valuable parenting book of the 21st Century. Wise and balanced, it offers parents realistic ways to cultivate the character strengths that children will need for success and good citizenship in today's world. The book is bold in taking on cultural misdirections. A gift to contemporary parents everywhere.”

William Damon, PhDProfessor and Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence, author of The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life

“Parents seeking good expert advice about how best to raise their children will benefit from this invaluable and singularly creative resource. In 8 Keys to Old-School Parenting for Modern-Day Families, Michael Mascolo uses his deep knowledge of contemporary scientific theory and research to provide clear and wise recommendations that will enhance parenting and positively impact the lives of children. Accessibly written, the pathways the author presents for effective parenting will give parents the intellectual and behavioral tools they need to optimize their children’s development.”

Richard M. Lerner, PhDBergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science, Director, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University

“An enlightening, engaging, and informative guide to parenting. This book offers a thorough examination of the literature and insightful illustrations to support the significance of parental attitude and action on the dynamic nature of the parent-child relationship, providing testimony to the longevity and success of parenting that combines nurturance and high expectations. A must-read for parents, grandparents, child psychologists, educators, and child-care providers.”

Dante Cicchetti, PhDMcKnight Presidential Chair and William Harris Professor, Institute of Child Development and Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota

“From strategies to motivate compliance to encouraging problem-solving skills, handling conflict, and communicating better, this book helps parents raise strong children who are emotionally secure and engaged in their environments, and is a pick for parents who want to blend modern perspectives with old-fashioned morality and ethical standards. Both are key discussions that should be in any parenting library.”

Midwest Book Review

“Each key . . . comes with plenty of useful examples, charts, sample dialogues, and research-based explanations. And each drives home the point that children will learn best from their own collective experiences. . . . As I read Mascolo, I almost felt like cheering. . . . I would recommend this book for both parents and teachers . . . . [I]n my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a book that encourages parents to take an active, authoritative, and nurturing role as they guide their kids through the trials and joys of growing up.”


“As an academic psychologist, a parent, and a consumer of trade press books on parenting, I found Mascolo’s text timely and insightful, and I am happy to have it on my shelf…. [T]he author has distilled highly regarded contemporary parenting theory and research and tied them to clear examples that most any reader could follow.”

Elizabeth Soliday, PhDAssociate Professor, Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology, Washington State University

Academic and Professional Books

Psychotherapy as a Developmental Process

This is a book for professional psychotherapists and academics who are interested in understanding how successful psychotherapy produces change in clients.  In this book, we show that psychotherapy — regardless of what kind it is — works by promoting development in the person receiving it.   Psychotherapy creates change through three basic processes.  The first, attentional support, occurs when psychotherapists ask questions and make statements that stimulate and support the client own attempts to understand his or her circumstances. The second, interpretation, occurs when a psychotherapist offers the client professional explanations of his or her circumstances.  The third, enactment, occurs when the psychotherapist engages the client directly in interactions that function to build novel emotional, representational and relational skills.  This book outlines methods that can be used by professionals and researchers to trace, with precision, the pathways through which clients build the skills that produce adaptive therapeutic outcomes.

Culture and Developing Selves

Culture matters in defining who we are.  This book makes three basic points. First, there are dramatic differences among the worlds cultures in people’s conceptions of what it means to be a person.  This book shows some of the ways in which the sense of self develops differently in different cultures, including the United States, China, Taiwan and India.   Second, cultures are not fixed entities; their richness cannot be captured using binary distinctions like individualism vs. collectivism.  There are individualist and collectivist aspects of all cultures; they are, however, configured differently.  Third, to understand a culture and the selves it spawns, it is necessary to examine the ways in which individual persons personally appropriate patterns of values, beliefs, and meanings that are shared and contested within the social groups of which they are a part.

What Develops in Emotional Development?

Emotions are foundational aspects of who we are.   They play a central role in organizing thought and action.  However, emotions are not discrete states or fixed responses (like reflexes).   Emotions are felt patterns of engaging with the world.  They are composed of interlocking patterns of appraisals (assessments of the fate of our motives and concerns), feeling tones and action tendencies.  Emotions are dynamic processes that show both stability and variation across time and place.  Of particular importance to this volume, emotions develop.  They undergo developmental transformation as the appraisals, action tendencies and regulatory components become more complex over time.  This book examines the nature of emotion and the ways in which they change over the course of individual development.