1st Edition

Indirect Parenting Interventions, Neuroscience and the Parent-Child Relationship Second-Order Parenting

By Thomas W. Roberts Copyright 2025
    320 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume explores indirect parenting behavior that changes the structure of the parent-child relationship, examining the ecological dimension of parenting in addition to nurturance and control.

    Drawing on neuroscientific research in parenting, it provides a model for how children learn implicitly and how parents can relate to children through indirect means. Roberts argues that first-order parenting techniques, teaching specific behaviors to reduce unwanted child behaviors, are overused. He examines and offers guidance on how indirect interventions that place emphasis on the interactional components of the parent/child relationship, such as modelling, storytelling, reframing, humor, and paradox, can support parents and children in developing positive relationships.
    • Addresses the latest brain research and its application to parent/child interactions
    • Introduces the student to aspects of the parent/child relationship that are not covered in most courses
    • Useful to clinicians who work directly with parents
    • Offers a perspective on parenting that differs from most parenting models
    • Facilitates awareness of how unconscious and nonverbal communication affects parenting
    • Serves to deepen the relationship with the child and curb unwanted behavior

    Indirect Parenting Interventions, Neuroscience and the Parent-Child Relationship will be thought-provoking reading for students and scholars of parenting and family systems, as well as clinicians who work directly with parents giving them a broader perspective in dealing with parent/child interactions.


    Part I. The Basics of Parenting and Family Development
    1. Introduction to Parenting Models
    2. What is Second Order Parenting?
    3. Systems/Dialectical Theory
    4. Factors that Impact Parenting
    5. Parenting and Neuroscience

    Part II. Putting it All Together
    6. Attachment, Systems Theory, and Neuroscience: Using Indirect, Implicit, and Paradoxical Methods
    7. Modeling
    8. Storytelling
    9. Reframing
    10. Humor
    11. Confusion/Rope-a-Dope
    12. Paradox

    13. Postscript
    14. Glossary
    15. Index


    Thomas W. Roberts received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Georgia in Child and Family Development. He came to San Diego State University in 1999 as Chair of the Department of Child and Family Development and was chair for nine years. He taught courses in family relationships and public policy and ethics. His research interests include divorce and remarriage, parenting, and applying neuroscience to family relationships. His current projects include how the unconscious plays the pivotal role in intimate family relationships. He has written grants on single-parenting, childhood obesity, early literacy, professional development for early childhood educators, and childhood safety.

    “The systemic perspective on family dynamics adds fresh insight to existing approaches to parent education. Dr Roberts proposes that second order parenting can enhance the education process by focusing on parental attitudes and behaviors as well as techniques to alter children’s behavior. Parent-child interaction is viewed from a wide-angle systemic perspective. Transformational change in the affective climate of the family can arise from unconscious and implicit processes happening within family relationships. I am impressed with the extensive research presented in Dr Roberts’s work. Readers from the fields of psychology, child development, family relations and parent education will appreciate the thorough documentation supporting his recommendations.”

    Del Hayden, Professor of Counseling (Emeritus), Western Kentucky University

    "Consistent with the tradition of Carl Whitaker’s Symbolic Experiential Psychotherapy model, Dr. Thomas Roberts has written a very controversial book on second order parenting that veers away from typical parenting models in that it focuses on both explicit parenting interventions (first order change/parenting) as well as implicit parenting interventions (second order change/parenting) where the unconscious and emotional process of learning is emphasized. Using his understanding and knowledge of up-to-date neuroscience research and attachment theory, Dr. Roberts has written a cutting edge and much needed parenting book that will resonate with many parents with who want to connect creatively with their children."

    - Michael Chafin, Psychotherapist and Former President of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)