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The Tentacle


September 10, 2002

Take The Time! Be A Real Parent To Your Children

Bethany Stevenson

A recent study was published stating that teen girls who have a close relationship with their mother are less likely to become sexually active as a teen than those who don't. This is a "duh!" moment. Any child who has a close relationship with a caring parent is less likely to be involved in any activity that is deemed nonconductive to a moral lifestyle.

In a society where mothers feel inclined to work outside the home to bring in extra bacon to plump the lifestyle, it seems that a study such as this needs closer attention. Parents as a whole in our society seem to need extra incentive to develop relationships with their children. When mother is not home with the children, and a day care provider is the mother figure, how can a mother-child relationship mature?

Conversely, studies show that in homes where there is no father figure present (or is not a worthy example to follow) the sons are more likely to be violent and have run-ins with the law.

Other studies show that where the father-daughter relationship is lacking, the daughter is more likely to become involved in relationships with men who abuse, and her self-esteem is shown to be below normal levels.

Families who eat dinner together at the table several times a week have proven that the parents know more about the friends and activities of their children. Knowledge, of course, is power and those kids are less likely to be involved in immoral or illegal acts.

Finally, children and teens who practice a religion (that is, not just go to a weekly meeting, but practice the principles of that religion daily) develop a stronger relationship with their parents and again are less likely to be involved in activities not accepted by the parents.

These studies, all put together, point to one thing : the family that does "stuff" together stays together. Whether it is praying together as a family daily, or having a weekly game night, or doing a monthly service project, doing it together has great blessings.

Of course, these studies do not guarantee that families who do all these things will have 100% success. There are always those children who have "wild oats to sow."

My family has put these studies to an experiment. For the last six years we have: 1) had family dinners at the table (with no TV) at least 4 times a week; 2) had family prayer daily; and 3) had a weekly family activity night. Two years ago we added a sport that the family enjoys together. To participate all we need is the four of us and scheduling time to do it.

The results of the experiment include: Dad has learned patience towards the antics of the kids; Mom is more fun and "cool;" the kids talk about their opinions, feelings, aspirations, and sensitive questions more readily; and we enjoy being together. We read novels together.

We find we get our work done quicker if our goal is to be together for family activity. Kids' bedrooms get cleaned faster. Schoolwork is done with enthusiasm. Mom gets the laundry done sooner. And dad does not work so much overtime.

Now, we still have "preteen attitude adjustments" to deal with, sibling rivalry, disobedience and general kid "oh, I forgot" problems. But we as parents are less likely to lose our tempers as before, and punishments when needed are more logical and help the children to think about changing behaviors.

The closeness we have developed has been amazing. We truly enjoy being together; its like vacation year round. Also amazing is the amount of time we DO NOT watch the TV anymore. All of us are more excited about reading the new novel, or playing a board game, or participating in our sport, which happens to be water sports: boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, swimming, kneeboarding, tubing etc.

Although our family is far from perfect, we feel we are having success in our family: building relationships where everyone communicates what he truly feels; where we share love, and our time; and where the children know what activities we deem worthy to spend time on, and they develop their own opinions regarding those activities.

A great leader from our church is quoted often. He said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home." Another of our church leaders said, "The greatest work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home."

So many of society's problems could be prevented with families developing lasting meaningful relationships and taking time to spend together (quantity and quality, not either/or).

Instead of mom working to increase lifestyle luxuries, stay at home with the children and create treasures not foreseen. Instead of dad working overtime, come home and play with the kids. Instead of turning on the TV or computer, read a classic book together. And instead of assuming your kids know how you feel about the friends they have, take the time to build friendship between the two of you, and teach them to appreciate the bonds of family.



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