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While the book, Wisdom for Parents: Key Ideas From Parent Educators, was written to and for parents, it can be a very useful book for professionals and in preparing students for work with families and parents, giving them a broader base for understanding various parent approaches. As one educator said, "Many of our interns do not yet have children so this will give them some positive examples and stories to share with clients to make their interactions even more impactful." The last chapter in the book is one of the most thorough treatments available for reviewing the historical background and roots of parenting ideas and concepts.

The following pages were prepared as a handout for educators at a national conference:
For a pdf copy of the handouts, click HERE

*   *   *

National Council on Family Relations Conference,
Orlando, FL, November 17, 2011

Robert E. Keim, CFLE, &
Arminta L. Jacobson, CFLE,

Book Cover


Wisdom for Parents:
Key Ideas from Parent Educators

Parent Education Courses: Classroom Use of the Book


Wisdom for Parents: Key Ideas from Parent Educators can be a powerful course supplement for preparing students for working with parents and families as well as personally enriching in preparation for parenting. The following learning activities can be adapted for College or Secondary Classrooms with a wide variety of course content in courses such as Parenting, Guidance, Infant, Child, and Adolescent Development, Family Relations, and Interpersonal Communications.


Ideas for All Courses

Assign students to read Wisdom of the Ages, Chapter IX, using it as a framework of understanding for classes such as Parenting, Family Relations, and Parent/Family Life Education.

* Have students interpret or explain individual Wisdoms with one or more of the theories or models in Wisdom of the Ages.

* Assign original sources of theories, models, books, and programs in Wisdom of the Ages to individuals or groups of students in the class and have them give oral reports with ideas for applying what they read to professional work with families.

* Have students update historical topics or concepts.

Facilitate a class discussion with selected Wisdoms using Appendix A & B as guidelines for discussions.

Assign different Wisdoms selections to individual students or groups of students and have them present to the rest of the class with the use of media (music, visual images) ideas from articles such as "The Spectrum of Light: Element of Truth in Each Idea", "The Bouquet of Parenting", or "Like Persian Carpets: Perfection Not Required."
Use drama through role play or student-written dramas using for inspiration Wisdoms such as "Which Way? Giving Toddlers Control" and "Is 'Good Job!' Enough?"

Have students read research literature about a chosen topic from one of the Wisdoms.

* Assign students to write a research paper. For example, they can learn more about concepts in "Parent-Infant Bonding: Its Role and Importance" or "Actions Speak Louder than Words: Being role Models for Our Children."

* Organize a (a) panel discussion or (b) debate by assigning several students to research about the same Wisdom topic.

To learn more about different cultural family perspectives, assign students to read research literature to learn more about Wisdom topics such as "2 Eyes, 2 Ears and 1 Mouth: Communication Tools" or "The Feeling Child."

Assign secondary family and consumer science or university students to read aloud one of the Wisdoms from the "Read Aloud" section, e.g. "Loyalty in the Family: What It Is and Is Not", and use guided discussion questions to talk with family members. Students can write a report on what they learned. Assign Wisdoms readings for online discussions or chats with requirements to pose questions and respond to their classmate's questions.

Family Relations Courses

Have students choose a Wisdom and develop interview questions for parents or grandparents about the topic. "What if" questions can be used, giving scenarios from the book. Examples of Wisdoms that have potential for rich interactions for students include "Wisdom for Fathers" and "Courage." After reading the poetry in the book, have students find poetry, prose, stories, philosophy, or other writings from literature with Wisdoms about parenting and family relations and share with their class. You can develop a class anthology.

Adolescent or Adult Development Course

Have students write a "wisdom" for parents from a young adult point of view, a Wisdom for Parents to empower their young adult child and encourage the transition to adulthood. Facilitate the analysis of possible meanings of different Wisdoms to parents in different stages of adult development. Students can develop a chart or other visual means to illustrate their conclusions.

Parent or Family Life Education Course

Have students interview parent/family educators for their Wisdoms. They can ask "What do you think is the most important concept you teach parents?" and then probe for more explanation.

Have groups of students collaborate to develop Lesson Plans for secondary Family and Consumer Science classes or community family life education classes based on a Wisdom such as "Lessons Learned Around the Dinner Table", "Family Stress: Don't Dodge It", "Teaching Children to Be Peacemakers", or "First Compassion, Then Teaching."

Family Life Education Internship

Require family life education interns to read Wisdom for Parents for insights into parenting and scenarios to which they can relate as they work with families and discuss with supervisor. This is particularly helpful for nonparent students to develop understanding and empathy for parents.

Use selected articles that relate to the internship site or audience as a starting point for reflective journal entries or online discussions among interns.

Family Resource Management Course

Use the following Wisdom articles as interest approaches and to facilitate class discussions:

"Invest 5 to Save 10" - time management

"Tune in, Turn Off" - managing media

"Can you Afford It?" - children's consumer education

"Giving Allowances" and "The Practice Credit Card" - financial management and education

Go to  for more about the book.



Book Cover

Wisdom for Parents:
Key Ideas from Parent Educators

Edited by: Robert E. Keim, PhD, CFLE,
Arminta L. Jacobson, PhD, CFLE


Classroom Uses of the Book

Wisdom for Parents, while written to parents, is a book from which professionals can benefit, with 77 articles by CFLEs (Certified Family Life Educators) and a concluding “Wisdom of the Ages” chapter. It provides useful ideas on parenting and offers an informative historical background on theory. Use it as supplemental course material for parent education, child guidance, family science, marriage and families or for enhancing preparation for working withparents and families.


• Reading assignments, especially the final chapter, Wisdom of the Ages
• “Reactions Reports” on selected articles
• Small group discussions or oral reports on selected articles
• Panel discussions to expand upon ideas of selected articles
• Application of ideas/techniques for a research paper
• Jumpstarting research on article topics or concepts in Chapter 9
• Interns who will work with parents
• Quizzes or examinations

Please share your ideas with us!



Wisdom for Parents
Chapter Titles


1. Wisdom for Children of All Ages

2. Wisdom for Family Interaction

3. Wisdom in Guiding Children: Specific Suggestions for All Ages

4. Wisdom in Guiding Children: Some Classic Approaches

5. Wisdom for Relationships in the Family

6. Wisdom for the Early Years: Infants to Young Children

7. Wisdom for Middle Childhood to Teens

8. Wisdom to be “Read Aloud” Together

9. Wisdom of the Ages

Our Historical Roots
Classic Books That Have Endured
Wisdom of the Ages by Conceptual Framework

Wisdom from the Developmental Approach
Wisdom from the Social Learning Approach
Wisdom from the Social Order Approach
Wisdom from the Personality-Character Approach
Wisdom from the Interactional-Transactional-Ecological Approach
Wisdom from the Bio-Psycho-Sociological Approach
Wisdom from the Eclectic Approach

Go to for more about the book.

Book Cover



Conceptual Framework of Parenting Theories
in Chapter 9 of Wisdom for Parents: Key Ideas .


The conceptual framework for parenting theories found in chapter 9 helps to explain and understand the principles and concepts utilized in many, if not most, parenting programs, as well as helping to understand the content of other frameworks which have been developed related to parenting.

The framework in the book is NOT a similar framework to these others; it is totally different. The first three below seek to suggestion what we should be teaching parents. The last, as found in the book, seeks to provide an understanding of the theories and roots underlying what we teach parents. Please note the following explanations.

National Extension Parenting Education Framework (NEPEF): NEPEF is "a model of 'what' to teach parents in parent education programs" (p.2), with the addition of "the critical skills and practices of parent educators;" a 2002 evolvement from an earlier model. (DeBord, K, Bower, D, Goddard, H.W., Kobbe, A.M., Myers, J.A., Mulroy, M, & Ozetich, R.A., National Extension Parenting Educators Framework 2002, retrieved Sept. 25, 2011, from

Parent Education Core Curriculum Framework (PECCF): A Comprehensive Guide to Planning Curriculum for Parent Education Programs in the Domains of Parent Development, Parent-Child Relationships, Early Childhood Development, Family Development, Culture and Community: PECCF "defines and places parameters around the core content - what we teach - in parent education" (p. 2); developed by professional parent educators in Minnesota and presented in 2008. (Minnesota Association for Family and Early Education, Parent Education Core Curriculum Framework 2011., retrieved Sept. 26, 2011, from

A Framework for Family Life Education: It seeks to reflect a broad conception of FLE, including all domains of learning (knowledge, attitudes, and skills) and that people of all ages should still be in the learning process. It lists topical areas and key concepts by age categories and is intended to assist program development and assessment, and as a focus for training CFLEs. It was developed by a committee of NCFR members (1982).
(Arcus, 1987, A framework for life-span family life education. Family Relations, January, 5-10).

The Conceptual Framework of Parenting Theories, in Chap. 9 of Wisdom for Parents: It seeks to organize our knowledge base of theories and concepts in parenting into an understandable model, including the breadth of our theories and concepts found in parenting programs. Where possible, references are given to the originators of the ideas. Thus, it helps to put into perspective and explain most of the parenting concepts used in the above frameworks. See the following page for excerpts of this framework.


Conceptual Framework of Parenting Theories:
Excerpts, Illustrating Some of the Details and Key Concepts

Chapter 9 includes expansion and description of the following Wisdom concepts and a reference list. 1.

1.Developmental - viewing changes in infants, children, parents, and the family over time.

Developmental tasks. 1928 pioneer, Lawrence Frank, followed by Robert Havighurst.
Family life cycle, work led by Rueben Hill &Evelyn Duvall (1948).
The teachable moment. Havighurst, springing from the earlier work of Arnold Gesell.
Critical learning period.
Bonding (attachment). Early work, Bowlby & Ainsworth.
Stages of cognitive development. Jean Piaget (1950s)
Psychological stages of development. Eric Erikson, 1950s.
Realistic expectations. Noted early by Meyer Nimkoff.
Stages of parenthood. Ellen Galinsky (1981)

2. Social Learning or Behavior Management - noting methods of how children acquire social behaviors.

Taking the role of the other. George Herbert Mead, 1930s.
Operant conditioning. John Watson (1919), Skinner, Bandura, including Charting.
Rewards, not bribes, are used.
"Catch the child doing good."
Praise, compliments, and encouragement. Often used.
Cues, prompts, or reminders. Encouraged to be used.

3. Social Order - viewing the family as a social system with the use of established rules to govern it.

Micro-social system. Parsons, Bell & Vogel, Dreikurs.
Natural consequences and logical consequences.
Responsibility, cooperation, and courage. Urged.
Rules and limit setting. Dreikurs, Louise Gueney, others.
Styles of parenting. Becker (1964), Baumrind (1966).

4. Personality-Character - viewing the development of "who" the child becomes.

Traits of personality. Allport (1961), Horney (1937, 1945).
Goals of misbehavior (by the discouraged child). Dreikurs.
Character development. Allport (1931).
The ordinal position, or the birth order. Adler (1930), Toman (1959), Leman (2004).
Life positions. Eric Berne (1962), Harris ( 1969).

5. Interactional-Transactional-Ecological - viewing the actions and their effects occurring between family members and other social systems.

"The family as a unit of interacting personalities." Burgess (1926).
The ecological approach. Hill & Hansen (1960), Bronfenbrenner (1979), Roberts (1994), Okagaki & Luster (2005).
Compassion, understanding, empathy, (Ginott, 19645)
Parent/child communication programs. Gordon (1970), Guerney (1977). Faber & Mazlish (1980).
Active listening, empathic responding. Carl Rogers (1951).
"I" messages. Buber (1923), Rogers (1951), Jourard (1964), Gordon (1970), Guerney (1977).
The no-lose method. Gordon (1970).
Stupid thinking, cognitive theory. Albert Ellis (1957), William Glasser (19650), Aaron Beck (1975).

6. Bio-psycho-sociological - viewing how genetics and biology affect individual behavior.

Genetic effect on behavior, inferred by Gesell, Bowlby, Allport; now bio-genetics studies from psychology, sociology, psychiatry, physiology, medical sciences; early pioneer, Knight Dunlap (1914); from the psychological perspective, Donald O. Hebb (1949), Edward Wilson (1974, Sociobiology).
ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, along with numerous other conditions.

7. Eclectic - looking at issues by use of several theories or viewpoints, often utilizing the ecological o systems framework, to focus on specific problem situations.

Most parenting programs today are eclectic.
Parenting is influenced by our personality, relationships, and bio-genetic factors. Vondra, et al. (2005).
Parenting is influenced by our psychological health and maturity. Vondra, et al. (2005). . . .
Numerous other topics, resources: Adoptive and foster parenting, Bilingual families, Blended families, step-parenting, Child bearing, Death experienced by children, Delinquency, Diverse cultures; etc.