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Parenting key to solving many issues facing kids

Lance and Billy have always been concerned for the young people of our area. One of the reasons we started writing our column was to encourage everyone "To Have Fun" and enjoy life. Being alive is truly a gift we need to embrace and make as wonde...

Lance and Billy

Lance and Billy have always been concerned for the young people of our area. One of the reasons we started writing our column was to encourage everyone "To Have Fun" and enjoy life. Being alive is truly a gift we need to embrace and make as wonderful as we can. There are many internal and external forces to deal with during that quest, particularly during the adolescent and teenage years. Lance and Billy have asked some experts for their opinions on the issues facing our young people today. We, as adults, need to be concerned with how the children of America are growing up. As we have always said: "Our future is ahead of us."

We though a good place to begin is the school system. On a daily basis, professionals in the field of education see kids more each day than do the parents. This is one reason why it is vital for teachers and parents to work together for the good of the child. Many times, teachers see problems before the parent does.

As time goes by, the problems facing kids change. A SHS teacher has seen a lot in the years he has been involved with kids. He loves young people but realizes there are many issues facing them every day. In no particular order, here are six of his responses:

l Peer pressures such as drugs, alcohol and sex.

l Self image, self confidence and depression.

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l Desire to fit in and belong.

l Relationships with friends, boyfriends and girlfriends.

l School pressures such as school work and extra-curricular activities.

l Family life such as dysfunction, money problems and proper diet and nutrition.

He could create a longer list, but these are issues all kids face. How kids maneuver these "land-mines" is determined, many times, by the strength of the family. Regular discussions with parents and other trusted adults should always be possible and encouraged. Other teachers we spoke with have similar thoughts.

We thought it would be informative to get opinions from a family counselor on the issues facing today's teens. These comments are very enlightening.

Increased exposure to sex and violence on a daily basis through television, movies, videos, music and Internet with their peers is pervasive. This continual exposure conditions how today's youth see the world and what is acceptable - even expected - behavior.

Change in the overall structure of the family, including divorce and single parenting often leads to a lack of adequate supervision of children - increased teen pregnancy - children having children.

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Alcohol and drug use is more prevalent for today's teens, including illicit drugs and over the counter (OTC) medications.

Mental health and behavioral concerns of today's teens, with increased rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide and oppositional defiant/conduct disorders, often lead to long-term consequences and an increased cost to society.

As the poverty rate for families in our society increases, the opportunities for teens diminished. Left with fewer options and many of their basic needs not being met, today's teens are often left to themselves or peers in similar situations. They make poor choices because they haven't learned positive decision making, problem solving or coping skills.

One needs to remember that for many teens today, many factors combine to make it very difficult to navigate the road to adulthood in a positive and productive way.

All of our sources requested anonymity, which is a sad commentary on all of us. People, particularly parents, don't like hearing negative comments about their kids. Parents also don't like to admit they may be part of the problem.

Do we have all of the answers? If we did, we would be on the "rubber chicken" circuit giving symposiums on how to raise your child. But there are some things that the Lance and Billy Childhood Development Association feel are very important.

Encourage your children through personal positive actions. Parents and those adults who come in regular contact with our kids have great influence on their development and behavior. Kids emulate what they see and hear.

Encourage kids to treat others in a manner they want to be treated.

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Be a parent. Your kids have lots of friends and look to you for advice, discipline and parenting. Be a parent first, and then work on being a friend. There is a fine line between the two.

Realize that no one is perfect, including your child. If you feel your kids are perfect and support them all of the time, they will realize at a very early age that you are their safety net. If they can do no wrong in your eyes, they will do more wrong.

Remember, there are consequences for your actions. They can be positive or negative. The more parents are willing to stress the negative consequence, the more positive actions occur.

Freedom should be earned. The more your child behaves appropriately, the more freedom can be granted. Never reward for bad behavior. Always praise positive actions.

There are no entitlements. Hard work and dedication will generally result in a positive outcome. With the way our society is becoming, a new generation of those who feel entitled to various outcomes is becoming pervasive. There is no substitute for the feeling of earning something.

Respect the property of others.

Get rid of the attitude that "it's all about me." Parents need to show their kids that others matter as much as they do.

Encourage your kids to be active and get off the couch. As you drive around Superior, take a look at the playgrounds and see how many of them are empty. Kids should be out playing and learning social skills that will serve them for life.

There are no easy solutions, but parents are the key. Be a positive role model, because our children's future is our future, too.

Related Topics: SUPERIOR
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