Tell-it-like-it-is radio host, Dr. Ray Guarendi – the popular clinical psychologist and host of “The Doctor Is In” radio show heard daily around the world – says the secret to successful parenting isn’t about knowing what to do. It’s about doing what parents already know.

            Say what?

            In his new easy-to-read primer which guides parents in five critical areas for raising good kids, Guarendi provides a practical framework – which he endorses with examples from counseling families, and from raising his own – for not only releasing nice kids into the neighborhood, but later, honorable adults into the world.  What parent wouldn’t be interested?

            Another spice of Raising Good Kids: Back to Family Basics (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) comes from Dr. Ray’s infamous self-deprecating humor, which sparks surprising laughs as the reader digests Dr. Ray’s longstanding serious advice.

            “Great family life, and raising good kids, is not rocket science,” says Guarendi.  “The only thing that’s rocket science is, well … rocket science.  Healthy family life is rooted in five basics:  time, communication, discipline, respect, and morality. That’s it.”

            Sound simple?  In concept, it is. 

            Take time, for instance. Guarendi shoots down the contemporary notion that quality time is better than quantity time.  “Despite what kids think, boring time is good time … you could say it’s even stimulating.  It’s a simple equation: the more downtime, the more uptime – whether it’s an impromptu tickle-fight, a ‘Dad-can-I-ask-you-something?’ conversation, or a cutthroat game of Twister.”  The unexpected stuff of memories, says Guarendi, actually springs from unscheduled time together.

            “Passive presence. Being there. Keeping a higher profile. These are ways of showing that togetherness can be as simple as time side by side,” says Guarendi. And this extends to eating meals collectively, maybe watching TV together, playing one-on-one, or even running errands as a group.  Quality time? You bet.

Eventually every parent runs into the thorny issue of discipline – when to exert it, and precisely how.  Guarendi keeps the bar high on this one.

            “To raise an exemplary human being, you need discipline – high expectations backed by clear consequences.” Over the past two generations, discipline has taken a beating, he says, at the hands of child-rearing experts promoting ‘kinder and gentler’ theories.  “Yes, psychologically savvy parents should instead be able to reason, persuade, reward, and emotionally guide their unruly charges into cooperation.”  But … it doesn’t really work.

Put bluntly, modern notions of parenting have watered down discipline. “Time outs”, for example, have replaced spankings, cites Guarendi, “and certain types of win-win scenarios – the ‘enlightened’, psychologically correct approaches – have instead eroded parents’ authority.  Why? “Because most real-life kids are too willful to respond to discipline that isn’t clear-cut, firm, and enforced at the hand of a confident parent.”

            Discipline is authority’s partner, says Guarendi. For example, if a parent gives a kid ‘the look’ (and we all remember that from our parents … we understood that unpleasant consequences would befall us if we ignored or challenged ‘the look’), the well-disciplined kid knows what to expect if he continues his behavior. He reacts to parental authority, long before discipline has to be exerted. But other parents only experiment with ‘the look’ – those who haven’t succeeded in getting kids to defer to their authority – and receive a look in return that says “What are you looking at?” 

            And so, without discipline and rightful authority in their courts, many parents never get to the latter tenets in Guarendi’s book:  respect and morality.  These cannot be effectively taught and instilled if the earlier building-blocks aren’t in place. 

            Finally, without objective morality – the teaching of absolute right and wrong according to Higher Authority (not just that of the parents), morality can become a matter of opinion. “Well mom, just because you don’t think I should vacation with my boyfriend doesn’t mean I don’t!”  And when kids think their parents’ rules are merely a matter of opinion – to be challenged or violated at whim – the system has failed in that home, says Guarendi.

            In the end, this not-so-popular parenting work pays.

            “If you stand strong, I can almost guarantee what you’ll hear in time from critical commentators (i.e., other parents) – though you may not get the credit directly: ‘You’re so lucky. You’ve got Chastity and Angelica – such great kids. I didn’t get good kids. I got Chucky, Damien, and Cujo.’”       

            “Dr. Ray’s book here is a MUST READ for parents,” says Fr. Larry Richards, author of  Be A Man! and the soon-to-be-released, Surrender! The Secret to a Peaceful Life (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011).  “In addition to speaking from his vast experience as a therapist and father of ten, Guarendi will help your family to be a place of love, peace, and great communication!”

Click to order:

Raising Good Kids: Back to Family Basics
Dr. Ray Guarendi
Tell-it-like-it-is radio host Dr. Ray Guarendi is a firm believer that the secret of good parenting isn't about knowing what to do. It's doing what you already know.
978-1-59276-777-9, Paperback, 64 pages, $6.95 plus S&H, ID #: T1082