The numbers are chilling. Teen suicide and homicide rates have tripled from twenty years ago. There is a 50% increase in childhood obesity. Teenage pregnancy rates are the highest for any Western society. SAT scores have plummeted. 15-20% of kids are flunking kindergarten. Millions of children are medicated to be more “manageable” at home and school. One of the ongoing tragedies in our culture is that these problems are occurring in our most precious national resource, our children. Can these stats be turned around? Yes, and much of it can be prevented.
Here are the 5 basic prevention factors in raising good kids: good parenting, physical nourishment, love, guidance and environmental benefits. Simple Simon right? It sounds easy, yet Dr. Michael Dana, life coach and an expert in juvenile affairs for the Federal government states, “The mission of good parenting is the fostering of children in a manner that allows them to grow up to be normal, productive and law-abiding adults who have successfully realized their God-given potential.” So what does that mean to you and I as parents?
Here’s Dr. Dana’s Number 1 Key:
Effective parenting starts with being involved in your children’s lives.
In our busyness, we are often distracted and not really “with” our children. Giving children quantity and quality time, in today’s world is hard! Parents who are striving to spend more time with their children are learning to be creative. Barb, a busy mom of 2 girls, works part time so she can be home when her girls come home from school. ”I want to make the most of every moment I spend with Kimmy and Carleigh. Even the time we spend in the car running errands can be productive; we play word games, work on spelling, or play audio books on CD. My girls know I’m interested in their school work and learning is more fun when we do it together.”
Dr. Dana, dad of three, emphasizes: some Be-Attitudes for Parents:
Be a listener.
Be good at helping your children express their feelings.
Participate in your child’s activities and interests. This can be done in a variety of ways – by talking about family history, allowing them to have free time to play and explore, through reading good classical and faith-based literature, establishing family traditions, and by sharing your own life experiences.
There is an urgent need for families to lessen their hurried lifestyles and become a haven, one that is nurturing for both children and adults. Dr. David Elkind’s advice, in his landmark book, “The Hurried Child” written more than—can you believe it– 20 years ago, seems to have gone unheeded. “The pressure to grow up fast, to achieve early is a driving force in middle-class America. There is no room today for the “late bloomer”… Children have to achieve success early or they are regarded as losers.” Many parents push their kids to be involved in activities because they feel peer group pressure to make their children as competent as the neighbor’s kids. This not only robs hurried children of a childhood, but also robs them of the most important gift a parent can give – their undivided time and attention.
Family mealtimes, traditionally an occasion of family bonding, has seen a decline in modern times. Working mothers, who customarily carry the weight of this responsibility, often find it difficult to make regular home-cooked meals a reality. Bill and Nancy, both working parents, felt increasingly scattered and distant from their teenaged boys. They determined to prioritize their time as a family. Nancy finally came up with a solution – she marshaled the family to help on the weekend with cooking meals for the week.
“This made all the difference in the world; we realized that our boys only had a few years left at home and we were missing it. Not only did the extra planning and time pay off in helping my boys learn their way around the kitchen, we experienced a lot more communication and connecting as a family.”
Parents as a group, are the least prepared to tackle the most challenging, and yet rewarding job of raising children. Think how much time and expense is spent learning a profession. Dr. Dana offers this advice, “No parent is perfect, but those parents who truly want the best for their children should always be vigilant to get support and education.” So follow Dr. Dana’s number 1 key to preventing problem kids and get involved before someone else requires you to get involved. .
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