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Families need strong parents

Mary Jean Carnevale

If you think it’s hard being a kid these days, try being a parent. Parenting is a noble profession that carries with it high rewards, slight setbacks and tearful disappointments. At the same time, families play a vital role in the survival of individuals, communities, cultures and civilizations. They are the social, psychological and emotional window to the world.Every family may not be perfect, but for all strong families there are 10 identified traits that seem to make them healthy family units:1. Communicate and listen – “Hear” the feelings behind the words. Try to see through your children’s eyes and help them see through yours.2. Affirm and support one another – Allow for differences without withdrawing your love and acceptance.3. Respect one another – Show respect for your children’s ideas and their individual contributions to the family.4. Develop trust – Minimize nagging and maximize friendly discussion.5. Have a sense of play and humor – Set aside time for fun.6. Teach a sense of right and wrong – Be sure your children help in making agreements and deciding on consequences. Be sure you follow through on agreements.7. Share the responsibilities – Build important decision-making skills by letting youngsters make decisions whenever possible.8. Nurture rituals and traditions – Find ways your children can feel significant in the family.9. Foster family table time and talk – Begin “family meetings” where everyone can share their ideas and be heard. Eat dinner together and turn off the television.10. Admit to and seek help for problems – Don’t hesitate to get help. There are a number of local resources available to assist you.When kids were asked what traits they felt made up a loving family, they identified the following three traits: to be listened to, to be taken seriously, and to be needed.Most parents would say that having a healthy, happy family is easy until the children become teenagers. Regardless of age, we know the number one ingredient to making the most positive progress in any child’s life is the support of parents. Often parents throw their hands up in frustration feeling that their children have out grown them. They feel they have lost their son or daughter to peers, teen fads, media messages and the like. I say this in confidence: Parents give up on kids before kids give up on parents. It doesn’t always seem that way, especially with teens, but deep down inside they are longing for the care, nurturing and guidance of family. Without a doubt, be it in surveys, research or even just asking kids here in our local communities, young people say that parents are the people who have the most influence in their lives. Next come other significant adults like relatives, teachers, etc., and further down the list come peers – even for teens.Parents, remain true to your profession. Your kids are counting on you.Mary Jean Carnevale is the YouthZone public relations coordinator. Need support, encouragement or help in strengthening your family? Contact YouthZone. If you have a question you would like answered in our column, e-mail or call YouthZone with it: mjcarnevale@youthzone.com or 945-9300.


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