Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
Dr. Richard Gallagher, you are the Director of the Parenting Institute at the NYU Child Study Center. Is being a parent today, being a good parent dramatically different than being a good parent a 100 years ago? I think it's a lot different. I think in terms of knowing information and there is a lot more information that parents can turn to that is formal information. And so the parents can get a lot more information reading and through media than they had beforehand where as a 100 years ago, there was lots of information available usually through family members and other organizations that have more informal connections. Is that more affective when there was an extended family and you you passed on generations of accumulated wisdom or do we have a better opportunity now to be a parent? Well, that's that's a good question. And we don't really have studies from a 100 years ago about how affective parents were. So there is not really much data to be really used. I would think that there in ways it's easier and is also harder. It's easier because I think we now do have some scientific information that tells us about what are good effective methods for raising kids to be healthy and happy. But at the same time it's not through the same kind of formal networks and I think a lot of or informal networks I would just say, and I think a lot of parents end up believing that they have to turn to experts or as before when they felt comfortable talking with one another or talking with their aunts and uncles or or their own parents to really get good advice. So good parent, what does that mean? Well, I think being a good parent is first of all taking care of the basics of providing for your children with regard to their health, their education and their you know, basic food and clothing and shelter. But with regard to being a good parent in terms of kid's psychological development, we think that there is a good foundation of parenting that has a lot to do with the parenting practices that we use. We think that there are four basic conditions. We think it's important for parents to have a good positive relationship with their kids and we are got to maintaining their positive relationship. We also think that the parents should then balance that with providing the effective guidance and discipline, spelling out rules and regulations being able to make sure that they tell their kids how to go through certain situations. And the third part we think is that if parents are really tuned into the kid's development, and what challenges kids have at different ages. But that really enhances their capacity to be a parent. They can know that their child needs to work on language development. They can know that their child needs to get ready to be with groups of kids in school. They can know that their kids who are adolescents might be presented with tempting risky behaviors. And they're better parents if they know what their kids are presented with. and then finally we think that parents are most effective when they can teach their kids skills to address those challenges, to know how to interact effectively with other kids, to know how to turn down offers of getting involved with drugs and alcohol as examples of those ideas. So there is a lot of talk in our country in the years passed about the family values and the red and blue states etcetera and the urban areas and rural areas are family values for someone who lives within five mile radius of really NYU Medical Center different than family values and of rural Utah? I think that can't be. And I think that parents certainly can have different contexts and different cultural values. But I still don't think that changes what you basically want to do for your kids. You may want to teach your kids different information. You may want to have your kids follow certain values. But no matter what those values are, you still have to be an effective parent to get those across. In terms of some information when we really think about things, there is actually indications that in some aspects of child rearing and some aspects of kid's behavior that some kids in rural settings are little bit worse off than they are in urban settings. So what is the primary work these days of the child's study center at NYU? What are you working on and what are you learning? Well, on parenting we are focusing a lot on our teenage program and trying to be able to teach parents how they work with their teenagers and get ready for teenagers by keeping that kind of close contact that's important. There was a phase of time when kids started to separate and that can be handled effectively or can handled be handled ineffectively. We think that's really pretty important for parents to kind of let their kids grow, let them have a little bit more freedom. But still work on having a good close relationship with them. And we have being working on a thriving teen's project, where we are teaching parents about the strategies for raising adolescents that we think are most important helping the kids stay away from the substances. Now we are doing tests on that measure on that method right now. So there is a whole new series of media experiences that a a young person would be growing up today, so spent a lot of time when there are face book, myspace page, there are text messaging, there are IMing, e-mailing, they are up loading videos on youtube etcetera, what aspects of that new wave of media experience according either to research or just your intuitive sense, is a great thing and what aspects of that do you have concerns about and trouble you? Well, with regard to the benefits of that we do think it's providing kids with the tremendous amount of information as well as parents, we we encourage parents to go to our websites for example to use that, and parents should be encouraging their kids to also go to good educational outlets, because there are tremendous number. I think there is also a lot of good value in entertainment, that there is a lot of options and you don't have fairly have to be entertained by the things that are on the three networks as number of decades ago, so there is a lot more of variety and we really like dance or other areas that are that are not covered you can you can find that about and entertain that it in that way. Our concern with the kids is that it does provide a lot more information, a lot more areas of influence than then parents had been able to control beforehand, so as if there is a flood of information that their kids are presented with and a flood of options that its not necessarily good for kids to have. What we advise parents to get involve with this to really get familiar with these with these media and sources and also really monitor their kids using those sources so parents do know what's on their child face book page and who their in contact with the face book, the parents are familiar with the amount of violence and content that presented in video entertainment and other outlets like that, and that that there is a kind of open review and a set of rules that say you know this is the amount of time you can spend on this and these are the kinds of things that you can review, and we are going to keep watching over that. This is not some thing that you have carte blanche, that we have rules and regulations and what it is that you can get involved with. And with all that multitasking and media usage is there a correlation between the growing usage of all those opportunities and devices and ADHD or those separate things? Well, there is one study that suggests that some of that information about the amount of television viewing during the pre-school years can have an in fact an impact that kids attention capacity, and I think that we do have a challenge overall, I don't think it's just kids, I think it's adults as well, that we have to be concerned about how we deploy their attention, I think that in some ways we will find out a couple of decades from now whether or not this is something that has harmed us in some way, but we don't have a lot of concern with regard to this with making it some of the causes of ADHD, now we think that ADHD is more likely some where it's neurologically based and that for kids that have this problem lots of outlets maybe something that we have to be careful out for them. So good parenting for a five year old: good parenting for 15 year old same principles? The same basic principles yes. Again you the challenges that the kids have, during their stages of development are different and parents tuning into that should be you know, able to do better, so for example a teenager is more likely to be able to negotiate and more likely to be able to stand up and try to say, well this I don't like these rules, this is one I like to see change in a parent can feel, were comfortable that a teenager would have better judgment than a five year old, with regard to deciding how much to eat, what time to stay up until who to hang out with, in terms of friendships. But the basic idea is of parents still having a good open relationship with good positive connections and the fact that parents are still involved with providing guidance and setting the rules and regulations as the same form both ages. Does that mean one shouldn't strive to be best friend with their child, what's the difference between intimate engaged parent and being a friend of the child? Well I think in the true sense of a best friend, I think it's fine for a parent to be a best friend, but if you remember our best friends are one that also tell us when we are get into trouble, and the best friends are one that they will say to us you know look, you really going off the deep end and so in that sense a parent can be like a best friend. However parents also need to make another step and they can have a positive connection but they also do need to be ready to set the rules and regulations. They need to be ready to be a bad guy, and to be disliked because sometimes the children wont see the wisdom of the decision, they wont see the need for extra safety that a parent might see and they might not see the fact that they shouldn't be able to eat all the cakes that they want, a parent does those things and a parent has to be the adult in the relationship and be ready to have time periods when their child doesn't like them. So for the parent not the information from all kinds of sources just as their children are getting, how would you advice to seek out and use information that's valuable to them not be overwhelmed by it but use the available information and literature? Well we think there are good resources for parents, most of them have been monitored by editors and other issues so that in some of the parenting magazines and in some of the child developing magazines they are popular usually a pretty similar advice and pretty good advice. What we think parents should do is that they should read it critically that they shouldn't get caught up in concerns about a new fad in parenting with the idea that's somehow or other this is going to result in kids being very different than have been going on for centuries. We have plenty of evidence that suggest there is certain new fad education programs for kids that really don't bear themselves out as being something that leads to kids being geniuses or being lets say really extremely talented. And most parents have actually recognized that, most parents have used the commonsense and said well that sounds like it would be nice, but I don't know necessarily this is going to turn my child into some kind of outstanding student other than beyond my own child's talent, so we would suggest the parents look to some well established effective websites that are endorsed by the organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychology and American Association of Psychology and those are good source that we think are the ones that would be very useful for them. What are the most troubling trends in our culture, do you think adversely affected the ability to be a good parent or the pressures on being a good parent? Okay I think one of the biggest concerns is time, and demands on parents time. A lot of families really need to be involved with having two parents working outside of the household, and I think that results in less connection between kids and parents. So that after school hours are big concerns of what they are doing? How to keep kids effectively supervised and I think also time with regard to being able to have some good entertainment and leisure time where the families can share with one another and I think that's one of the biggest challenge that we have. So the NYU Child Study Center, what does it do? Well, the Child Study Center overall has three broad missions. One is that we want to be involved with doing research in helping kids overcome mental health problems and helping parents, work with kids who have mental health problems and we want to understand what's the most effective means of doing that? So that we do a fair amount of basic research as well as treatment research on number of different topics in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. We are also involved with going to try to train the next generation of clinicians for working with kids and so we have a big training mission that emphasizes work with psychiatrists and training psychologists and training and educate us as well and finally we also provide a lot of treatment services to the families in the area and to some extent the families have come to us for consultation as well, all the parts of the country as well so parts of the world. Now we were trying to do Top Notch Treatment with regard to Psychopharmacology work as well as behavior in Psycho Social Interventions. What you see happening with these center over the next ten years or so there is new initiatives that you are excited about that you want to see the organization push into? Oh the Director Dr. Koplewicz has been able to make very good connections and we really sell the ideas of the children's mental health is a very important issue and we have become recognized and we will be working on establishing a center for excellence for New York State that is in conjunction with the New York State Office of Mental Health. To be able establish and set are really a Top Notch Setting that will help establish guidelines for the treatment of children throughout the state as well as being hopefully being a model for the rest of country. With that we are working on having a new building that will be a big research in treatment center that will allow us to go in to many areas of study including that which you would typically think about within child and adolescent psychiatry but also major investigations of brain as well as genetics and these are areas in which we were advancing as well we continue to working on Psychosocial and medical treatments. So finally is it getting easier or harder to be a good parent? Well, I think it is getting easier because of extra information. I think the challenges that the parents have are getting more and more complicated because of the amount of information that kids are presented with and the kids are not just being in the shelter of the family, kids are really being targeted by media outlets and other source of information and people try to influence their kids, so I think there is a challenge their net part is harder for parents figure what shall my kid be exposed to and how can I have a way of dealing with that exposure and make sure my kid is developing in the way that I want my child to develop. Dr. Richard Gallagher NYU Child Study Center, Director of the Parenting Institute, thanks very much for your time. Thank you.