21st Century Parenting: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children in an Unstable World by Rick Capaldi, MFT, PhD (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 11

21st Century Parenting in Review

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Remember school, tests, midterms, finals? If you were like many of us, you looked forward to the review prior to the test so that you could cram to improve your grade. Unfortunately, there is no way to cram for the parent test. It’s ongoing and all around you, lasting for eighteen years and beyond. Your final grade is what your child demonstrates as an adult and lives with him or her the rest of his or her life. So let’s go back and review:

As parents, you need to recognize today that your kids bring more home and to the classroom, playground, and their social community than books, pencils, and iPads. Their emotional backpacks are often affected by family dysfunction, economic impact, physical challenges, learning disabilities, academic challenges, mental health issues, and various influences both in and outside the family, positive and negative, that often affect their ability to perform, feel good about themselves, develop relationships, and feel accomplished.

Today’s performance in and outside of school requires more than the concept of the three Rs of yesterday. Although reading, writing, and arithmetic are important, today’s expectations and future goals for children necessitate the need for a new set of three Rs, requiring parents to take a more active role in their children’s life from infancy through adolescence, supporting their emancipation toward lifelong success. Simply put, doing what may have seemed easier fifty years ago now mandates recognizing and responding to the increasingly broad influences your children are exposed to, both good and bad, and establishing their ability to have the necessary tools to be effective, productive, and successful in negotiating their way through them.

So today it’s not just children who need to pay attention, but parents as well—paying attention to what’s going on in their children’s world and what they’re exposed to, and incorporating a new set of three Rs to assist in:  Reading Your Child’s Environment—paying close attention to the Core Development Constructs children operate around and what influences their behavior, performance, and success; Regulating Your Child’s Emotional Temperature—paying attention to your children’s responses in relationship to influences that stimulate their emotional temperature, as well as teaching them how to regulate their emotions and reactions to challenges and influences they are exposed to; and Redirecting Your Child’s Behavior—paying attention to your children’s accomplishments and disappointments and directing them toward their highest degree of personal success and significance.

In this process, parents need to recognize often unresolved and ongoing health, family, academic, behavioral, social, and emotional issues and how these can impact a child’s attitude, behavior, and performance, causing emotional temperatures to rise and often having an impact on their child’s success. As a result, they must recognize and respond to their child’s needs as they develop along with their Core Development Competencies, creating a balance in their life leading to their present and future success.

Remember, emotional regulation is not a birthright, but a learned behavior. It is a parent’s responsibility to develop their children’s ability to control and regulate their emotional temperature in relationship to those issues they’re exposed to throughout their life. Also, recognize that the absence of emotional control further impacts their children’s safety, security, and success. Therefore, developing emotional regulation helps children recognize a responsibility to their behavior and how it impacts others in their society today and in their future.

Finally, the goal of a parent is to Redirect their child toward their highest level of personal competency. Recognize that self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivation aren’t birthrights either. They too are learned, and only through achieving successes within his or her core competencies will the child be motivated toward continued success, establishing pride, assurance, and drive as a result of constant performance versus the shame, doubt, and stagnation he or she will feel due to a lack of accomplishments. And this can only be accomplished through parental attention—directing, guiding, and supporting their child’s efforts toward positive accomplishments.

Simply put, today parenting is more than being your child’s best friend or buying the latest technology. It’s about leadership and paying attention, reading your child’s environment, teaching him emotional regulation and redirecting him toward the development of his highest degree of personal competency and significance. It’s also partnering with experts to support your child’s development, safety, and success—because if you don’t, no one else will!


Dr. Rick Capaldi, author, 21st Century Parenting, has been a practicing family therapist for 40 years, specializing in working with children, adolescents, and parents.  He is a former adjunct professor in Pepperdine University’s graduate M.F.T. counseling program and former instructor of psychology and sociology at Saddleback and Irvine Valley Community Colleges.  In 1993, Dr. Capaldi co-founded Outreach Concern, Inc., one of the largest nonprofit, school-based agencies in the country providing counseling and support services to children and families throughout Southern California.  Dr. Capaldi is also president of Capaldi & Associates which provides executive management assessment and organizational development services worldwide.


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