School’s out! Do you know what your children are doing?

Most parents and care-givers of our youth are most attentive and aware of what their children are doing, at all times. Yet we know that there are those whom are not.

With their children in school some parents erroneously considered the school personnel taking care of their children, and were most happy to be without their children during the school day. Now, as school is out, they are faced with the reality of tending to, and living with, their children during the day; and are lost as to how just to do that.

They rely on the children themselves, the children’s peers, or others; to take care of their needs…which may lead to big problems. Without attentiveness and plans for their children as the summer months begin, the child may be enticed by others to engage in most inappropriate behaviors…to include the experimentation with Ethyl Alcohol, Cannabis, and other chemical substances; anti-social acts and behaviors, promiscuity, excessive computer games and phone-chatting; and a host of other detrimental activities.

This is the time of year when these behaviors are at the apex in our society; and this is the time of year when we need to increasingly concentrate on taking care of our youth.

Now, I am aware that most parents and care-givers out there are most concerned about these issues, and stay on top of this. They are aware that there are many temptations facing their children, and are most consistent and persistent in their parental leadership roles. They are most keenly aware that their primary role on their life’s journey is to take care of their children, to protect them from harm and provide them with their needs; and above all, they know what their children are doing at all times.

They nurture their children’s physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs; and above all teach them the virtuous values and behaviors of “doing good and being good.”

Yet, in this new generation of young adults with children, the “Me Generation,” there are those parents whom have a belief system that places them ahead of their children; a very selfish belief that their needs come first ahead of their children.

This is a most detrimental faulty assumption, and is ever present in our society today; it is perhaps the primary reason for the up-take in violence in our society and the increase in substance abuse and substance abuse disorders.

You and I see examples of this every day…at children’s birthday parties where in the adults are more concerned with drinking beer and dancing rather than engagement with their children, “turning their children loose” in department stores rather than being watchful over them, etc. It appears that they see their children as impediments to their lives, burdens, not gifts they have been given.

There exists many parents and care-takers in our society who really need to learn parenting skills. Parenting is the most difficult job there is, and it does not develop by happenstance. In my counseling practice there is one most basic fact that I have learned: Parents need to check-out the way they were parented; their own values, beliefs, and behaviors prior to understanding how to be great parents themselves; and if need be, to receive counseling assistance.

Those parents who were raised in a dysfunctional family unit bring with them into adulthood what they have “chosen” to learn and accept; I use the word “chosen” as we all choose the thoughts and associated behaviors we will have along our life’s journey. Good parents learn to overcome the laissez faire (anything goes…allowing the children to do whatever they want to) or autocratic (parented most sternly…a very strict disciplinarian) ways that they may have been parented, and develop a way of parenting that is more democratic in practice.

In my many years of working with troubled families in the mental health and substance abuse arenas, I offer the following tips on parenting that I have used to bring about stability to the family…becoming a democratic parent leader 1) Always, and I empathize always; know where your children are and what they are doing. 2) Know who your children’s friends are, and teach them about “peer pressure.” 3) Begin teaching your children the virtuous values of “doing good and being good” at a very early age. 4) Begin teaching your children about substance abuse at a very early age, commensurate with the child’s level of understanding.

Remember, children learn values and attitudes by example shown by their parents and other adults. If the parent engages in heavy drinking or illicit substance use, then odds are that the children will do the same as they become adolescents 5) Insure that your children are engaged in healthy activities at home and outside the home; such as board games, playing catch, croquet, badminton, walks in the park, sports activities, etc. 6) Talk with your child about their ambitions and “dream fulfillment,” and how the use of alcohol and other drug substances, and their choice of friends of questionable character can interfere with those subjects. 7) Become pro-active your selves, as parents, in your children’s activities; to include their sporting events and other activities they may be involved in. 8) Limit the time your children spend on the computer and other electronic devices, and monitor what they are doing on them. This has become a most serious problem in our society…predators on the internet, etc. 9) Above all; give your children unconditional love and positive regard.

Fortunately we have in our community activities and programs for our youth to be engaged in for the upcoming summer months…the parks, swimming pools, library, etc. In addition, take your children to the Harlingen Museum and learn about the heritage of Harlingen, and the rich heritage of Harlingen Air Force Base where thousands of Airmen served and trained during World War II in the 1940’s and at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, and early 60s. Take your children to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial and associated Museum of World War II there, as well as the Veterans Memorial at Pendleton Park.

There are so many venues for parents and their children to become engaged in. Yes, my friends, being a great parent takes practice; and it only occurs if the parents are pro-actively, and healthily involved with their children…that’s the key. We must always know what our youth are doing…do you?

Until Next Time, Stay Healthy My Friends!