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Lichtman authors new guide to parenting
8/01/11

Alfred University Psychology Professor Louis Lichtman, with more than 40 years of teaching and research behind him, says children are most successful when they are "self-directed" rather than parent-controlled.

His advice, presented in his new book, A Practical Guide for Raising a Self-Directed and Caring Child, runs counter to the current popular authoritarian parenting style advocated in Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

"Many of the problems facing our country today stem from the way we raise our children," said Lichtman. Surveys show that parents are failing to teach their children appropriate values. In the past year alone, about 30% of teenagers stole, 60% cheated, and 80% lied about something important.
Also, about 50% admit to bullying other children.

His own experiences with what he calls "unhappy and poorly adjusted college students" prompted him to offer the parenting course and, eventually, to write the guide. Since its introduction in 1987, over 1,200 students have taken his parenting seminar.

With the media attention on the "Tiger Mother" style, Lichtman says he is concerned "parents will adopt a strict authoritarian style," even though the preponderance of research findings indicate "an authoritative style "- where parents offer guidance, not orders - works best for raising well-adjusted children to adulthood.

"Parenting is a complex and challenging task for which most people receive no formal training," said Lichtman. He compiled what he has learned as a psychologist, teacher, and parent into the guide, which received an Editor’s Choice award from iUniverse.

Lichtman earned a BS degree in psychology from Brooklyn College and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Maine. In addition to a long teaching career, he has been a chair of the department for 13 years, and has served for 10 years as an associate dean or acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

He was one of the founders of the Alfred Montessori Preschool. He and his wife have two grown daughters.