Build a solid foundation for your children’s sake |

Build a solid foundation for your children’s sake

Debbie Wilde
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

How frustrating and long the years of raising a teen can seem. When that child gets out of the “cute” phase is when the foundation that has been laid down by parents gets tested.

My many years of living in the same community has given me the opportunity to observe families from the time their kids are small, through the teen years and then beyond. It is this long-term view that has convinced me of the importance of setting a positive course in the early years of a child’s life. Children who have learned right from wrong, responsible behavior and understand values, will most often come back around, even if they veer from them in the rocky years of adolescence.

I was reminded of just how important a good foundation is as the earthquake and subsequent devastation in Haiti unfolded. Haiti’s earthquake was soon followed by the earthquake in Chile, but the aftermath in Chile was much less severe.

A geologist on National Public Radio’s Science Friday, said that if one measured an earthquake, like a ball for example, Haiti’s earthquake would be a ping pong ball and Chile’s earthquake would be the size of a globe. So Chile actually had a much more intense earthquake. The difference in the devastation and the loss of life, he said, had to do with the buildings. Haiti’s buildings were hundreds – maybe even thousands – of times less safe.

There is no question that as a young person reaches adolescence, they are faced with choices and challenges unlike any they have had to that point. Many parents would say having a teenager in their homes feels like an earthquake hit. For some the aftershocks continue longer than for others. How things settle when the dust clears has a great deal to do with how strong of a foundation the family has built in those preceding years.

I have watched families raise their children in ways that I could easily predict that trouble would show up in the teen years. Some of these families have no discipline, and it is clear that the child rules and will continue to rule the home. Others are overly controlling and this spells trouble when the child hits adolescence and the natural development of breaking away and finding their own identity occurs.

However, I have watched many a child who was raised with love and healthy family values reach the teen years and become someone their parents no longer recognize. I have watched even these kids get involved in drug use, drop out of school and demonstrate behavior that their families never anticipated or even imagined.

The difference is that the youth who have a solid foundation to fall back on, get through these turbulent times and find solid ground again. They are the ones that most often make it back to responsible behavior and a healthy life.

There are many parenting resources available, including parenting classes and coaching at YouthZone. These guides are as important to building a family foundation that will weather coming “storms” as building codes are for building a strong home that will weather coming storms.

– Debbie Wilde is YouthZone executive director

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