Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Teaching values to your child

The world of preteens and teenagers today is downright scary to those of us grew up in the mid to latter part of the twentieth century. Schools are no longer safe havens, young thugs involved in gang wars threaten pedestrians on city streets. Foul language has proliferated and no longer shocks anyone, and casual sex is the rule rather than the exception.

Young people see friends and even older siblings practically living out of suitcases as they cohabit with one "main squeeze" after another. Drug and alcohol use are common. Peer pressure to go along with the crowd is as strong as it ever was.

How can we teach values to our children in the midst of a culture which appears to have few positive values of its own? Here are a few suggestions.

The job of parenting today requires more time and commitment than ever before. We need to mentor our children in today's society, as well as parent them. We must point out to them which behaviors are wrong or hurtful, and have strong, logical reasons why.

Example is the best teacher. When a parent makes one choice over a less favorable one, he should explain why. Don't be domineering, listen to the young person's ideas on the subject. Be ready to find a middle ground, if possible, but stand up vigorously for the more moral option.

Consider home schooling, or choose a private educational institution, one that includes some religious training. The Ten Commandments have stood the test of time as reliable moral guidelines. If they are learned and internalized during youth, they will become a permanent part of one's character.

For the same reason, attend church as a family. Let the child see that faith is an important part of your life. Encourage him to join church-sponsored activities during the week and make new friends there. Then, welcome these friends into your home to strengthen the friendships.

Become familiar with your child's friends and their parents. Share activities with them occasionally. Treat the youngsters to the odd dinner at MacDonald's, and listen to the conversation. You'll be able to tell whether or not the kids are on the right track.

When questions or problems arise that involve your child's friends, contact the other parents. They are probably just as concerned as you are, and anxious to share insights and possible solutions.

Always know where your child is. He should have a regular curfew and observe it. Having to be home at a definite time often makes saying no to a questionable activity much easier.

Watch TV, recent movies and go shopping with your child. As he comes into contact with different cultural elements, you'll be right there to explain what is good and worthwhile, and what is not. Parents are more influential in forming their children's attitudes than they realize.

Eventually the time will come, when he leaves for college or university or enters the work world, when your job will be completed. From now on the decisions will be his. This is the time when you'll reap your reward.

When you see your adult son or daughter, married, with a family, living a moral and productive life, you can believe that you've succeeded in your parental duty. And, when you see him struggling to raise his children just the way you raised him, you can be sure of it.

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