YouthZone column: Healthy families lead to capable kids

Family-centered homes allow youth to build both self-esteem and respect for others. In our zeal to raise healthy, active kids, the family sometimes gets left behind.

As parents motivated by love, we all have best intentions for raising our kids. We love our kids, we support them, provide for them and nurture them. Parents give up their own hobbies, time and money. Siblings don’t see each other compete in a game or go to cheer each other on in a race or competition because each is doing their own thing across town.

It is important that kids are engaged in different activities. By providing healthy things to do, it will also help distance your children from getting involved in unhealthy relationships and activities. However, there must be balance between setting up a continual campaign of activities for each child, and encouraging them to be there for their siblings’ and parents’ interests and accomplishments.

Parents divide and conquer with one parent attending one event and the other attending the other event. And if you are a single parent, the challenge of being at events is even greater. This does not build a family. It builds an individual. To build a healthy family, you need to reserve time and combine interests. Do you engage and sit down together at dinner time? How about Sunday morning or Friday night? Is there any time that is just family time?

In a family-centered home, children become aware of what it means to support others and the rewards that come with self-sacrifice. They start to understand the joy of friendship in sharing and participating in each other’s lives.

Taking it a step further, you need to be honest with kids on what you are willing to do for them and ask them what they are willing to do for you. Children can learn that their needs are important and deserve respect, but they also learn to respect the needs and desires of others. Teaching the skill to compromise will take some planning.

Encourage your children to find other resources available to them for transportation: local buses, carpools and bikes can get them to their activities. It may not be comfortable for them and you will need to push to keep from returning to old ways of taking care of all of their needs. Stay encouraged because your sights are on building character and skills that will benefit them for life.

Let’s raise kids who know what it means to give and take and can respect the needs of others. They need to be able to take care of themselves and also to be a team player. You will help your child grow into respectful and capable adults. If you would like more support in building a strong family with healthy, self-motivated children, call YouthZone at 970-945-9300 to find out about our next parenting classes or to meet with someone individually.

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