Episode 136: Adele Faber Interview on Parenting (Part 2)

MichaelDevelopment12 Comments


In part 2 of my interview with Adele Faber, co-author along with Elaine Mazlish of “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” we talk about what do do when you’ve got nothing left emotionally to give to your children, how to handle foul language, how to problem solve with your children, and being authentic with your children about own feelings. Finally, Adele gives her opinion on whether or not we need to be tougher with our children, especially when they are acting out.



What is our major goal as parents? ….. “To produce children who are, among other things, brilliant, polite, charming, neat and well-adjusted, of course.”

Dr. Ginott looked solemn. It was obvious that this last comment had not amused him. He leaned forward and said, “This is how I see it. It seems to me that our large goal is to find the ways to help our children become humane and strong.

“For what does it profit us if we have a neat, polite, charming youngster who could watch people suffer and not be moved to action?

“What have we accomplished if we have reared a child who is brilliant – at the top of his class – but who uses his intellect to manipulate others?

“And do we really want children so well-adjusted that they adjust to an unjust situation? Too many Germans adjusted only too well to the orders of the Nazis to exterminate millions of their fellow men.

“Understand me: I’m not opposed to a child being polite or neat or learned. The crucial question for me is What methods have been used to accomplish these ends? If the methods used are insults, attacks, and threats, then we can be very sure that we have also taught this child to insult, attack, to threaten, and to comply when threatened.

“If, on the other hand, we use methods that are humane, then we’ve taught something much more important than a series of isolated virtues. We’ve shown the child how to be a person – a mensch, a human being who can conduct his life with strength and dignity.”

Pages 14-15 of Liberated Children, Liberated Parents


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12 Comments on “Episode 136: Adele Faber Interview on Parenting (Part 2)”

  1. Judy: if you’ve been doing those workshops for 25 years then I’m sure you have helped a lot of parents along the way. I have twins so I understand how difficult it is for siblings to share. I’ve read both “How to talk” and “Sibling” and they’re both great. It’s parenting advice that is simple and respectful of both the parent and the child. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Michael,
    Thank you so very, very much for interviewing Adele Faber. I have been leading “How To Talk” workshops and “Siblings Without Rilvary” for 25 years. I also work as a parenting counselor and have seen such amazing families emerge as Dr. Ginott’s methods and ideas are incorporated into their everyday life. Among many stories I have, is a family I worked with last year. They contacted me because their two children, ages 3 and 5 were fighting constantly. To preserve the peace they had two of everything, a separate but equal type of existence which was driving the parents crazy. I just heard from the mother, the kids are now sharing a room, their idea! She is so happy with all of the changes they have made. I urge everyone to read the books and begin changing the way your family communicates.
    Good Luck,

  3. Dear Scott, Thanks for adding such interest perspectives to this valuable podcast. I found myself learning so much more from your valuable inputs.

  4. Michael,

    I really enjoyed both episodes with Adele Faber. In fact, I always particularly enjoy episodes that deal with parent/child issues.

    This is going to seem like an odd comment, but I hope it makes sense. In my experience, parents and adults who are trying to work with kids have to be psycho-illusionists. To put it another way, you have to learn how to use slight-of-mind when dealing with kids.

    One of the things I’ve learned is that the best time to work on an issue is rarely when the issue rears it’s ugly head, unless (and this is extremely important) you’ve worked out a plan ahead of time. For the parent and teacher, it ultimately needs to become intuitive and instantaneous. You have to have already thought about it BEFORE the issue arises. It’s like watching a great game of chess where the winner is in control of the whole game from the very first move. Replay just about any Bobby Fisher match as an example.

    Back when I used to fence (with swords) on a regular basis, one of my teachers explained that poor fencers “telegraph” their intentions. Good fencers know this and learn how to watch for the clues. I came to know this first-hand, not only in fencing, but in other ways as well.

    It’s the same thing with kids; they can intuitively see you coming a mile away. So as you work on different approaches to getting around their defenses, you have to develop many back-door techniques. If alarm bells are going off inside your kid’s head, his or her resistance will be high. In that state, you’ve already lost and you’re not going to accomplish anything. Here’s an example…

    When I was a piano teacher, it was common for pre-adolescent students to claim that they didn’t have any time to practice; that they were “way too busy” to get much practicing in. I would then reach into my bag-of-tricks and pull out a back-door method I often used to reveal that they, indeed, did have plenty of time to practice.

    I would begin innocuously enough so that the “conversation” wouldn’t cause suspicion. I would begin talking about the weather, school, really general stuff. Then, I would pull out the zinger when they were least expecting it.

    “Oh…did you see ‘The Simpson’s’ this week, it was so funny!” I would start. The student would launch into their response and I would follow up with another show that I knew they watched regularly, then another. Sometimes I would play dumb and say, “You know…I was thinking that I might teach you a theme song to one of your favorite TV shows. Can you remind me which ones you like?” They would rattle off their list. Then I’d say, “Wow, that’s a great list of shows. Did you have a chance to watch them all this week?”

    I’m sure you can imagine the looks on the students’ faces when, after admitting that they did watch ALL of their favorite shows that week, I would say, “So you didn’t have any time to practice, but you managed to watch ALL of your favorite shows this week.”

    So I opened the back door using the right key and they had no idea that I was walking right in without any resistance whatsoever.

    I’ve also learned that the best frame of mind to have when sorting out issues with kids is one of curiosity and objectivity, especially DURING the issue. Otherwise, you’ll telegraph your intentions, and your frustration. When that happens, kids will instinctively know that they are in control and will remain in control as long as your emotions are out of control. They eat that stuff up and you’ll just end up walking away thinking, “What just happened?”

    If you think of how much of your communication with your child is non-verbal, most parents never stand a chance. So the foundation of changing your child’s behavior begins, first, with changing your own behavior, then changing your thoughts about their behavior. And lastly, applying objectivity and curiosity to the trial-and-feedback process.

    Anyway, these are just a few thoughts I was having after listening to this great interview. Parents dealing with their kids and teachers, with their students, is very tricky business, indeed. But it’s a puzzle that can be solved, though it may take a good deal of time and effort.

    All the best to you, Michael. I wish you continued success with your podcast and all your endeavors.

    Scott Milford

  5. Alexandre: I wish I could create transcripts for the episodes but just cost too much money. I’ll keep my eye open for a service that does it inexpensively but so far I haven’t found one. I appreciate your attempts to follow along and I hope it helps with your language learning.

  6. Hi Michael! I’m a psychology student from Brazil, I have been listening your podcasts for a while, and now I’m here to ask you something. Is there some possibility to you transcript the audios? Thats because people like me who are learning english sometimes doesn’t understand very clearly what you native speakers are saying, your speech is so fast! Anyway, thanks and keep doing this, I really enjoy the show!

  7. Michael, thanks for the name. I have hit the Amazon store and order books from both Hiam Ginott and Adele Faber; their books should be a good investment for all parents!

  8. Ting: thanks so much for your kind words! The person Adele mentioned as being an influential mentor is Hiam Ginott. Take care, Michael

  9. During this wonderful Thanksgiving time, I would like to thank you for the excellent podcast!

  10. Hi Michael,

    Adele mentioned toward the end of your podcast on a influential mentor that she had that made her so successful. I could not catch his name at all, can you share his name with me?


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