A coach for parents

Family: A psychologist has assembled a kit to help children and adults understand each other.

Family Matters

October 17, 1999|By C. Genia DeAraujo | C. Genia DeAraujo,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

News about teen-age slayings fill air waves. Childhood depression is rising. And parents are uncertain of their role. "Tragic" is how psychologist Carol Renaud Gaffney describes these circumstances affecting today's youth.

She has created a kit she believes may help parents raise stronger kids. It's called the Parents' Success Kit, which includes a coaching guide to help parents and children understand one another.

Included in the kit is a book that helps parents identify problems their children may be having, develop a line of communication and help children become more responsible for themselves.

Gaffney said she was inspired to write the book after her son Chris was attacked at college. Traveling one night with friends, he was hit from behind with a shovel and beaten by two men.

Months after the incident, while Chris recovered, Gaffney still felt angry. Because the assailants were never found, there was no legal resolution. So Gaffney said she had no place to direct her emotions.

In her book, "Dr. Gaffney's Coaching Guide for Better Parents and Stronger Kids," she writes, "My goal in the book is to address the problem [of violence] from both sides: to provide ways for our children to keep out of harm's way and to provide them with values and choices of behavior that will keep them from resorting to violence. The key to both sides is the parents."

Gaffney says parents should be aware of their children's routines because any deviation could be a sign of difficulty. If you think something is wrong, she suggests having the problem evaluated by a doctor and talking with teachers to see if the child is doing well.

In her book, she outlines three principles:

*Parents "can only take their children as far as they [the parents] have gone. They may progress beyond where you are in life, in learning and in personal standards and values, but if they do, it will be because of what they learn from others."

"Raising children to adulthood is a gradual process of their learning and our letting go."

"Behavior, yours and your children's, is an expression of biology, psychology, social experience and the yearnings of the soul. The medical and behavioral health fields have been guided by the idea that behavior is a result of the interactions of our biology, psychology and social experiences. The time has come to take the next step and add the concept of the soul to the factors affecting the expression of behavior."

The Parents' Success Kit contains an audio tape for relaxation, two Family Talk Reports (two computer disc programs), a journal for tracking progress and the Coaching Guide.

How to order

The kit is available at Barnes & Noble or through Gaffney at 888-DrGaffney or her Web site: www.drgaffney.com/

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