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Home >  Information A-ZAll Kids Information ArticlesWould Your Kid Flunk You? Be a Parent First!

Would Your Kid Flunk You? Be a Parent First!
by Caroline Neeley

Before high school ended for the year and before final exams, I spent time talking and listening to Ventura County, CA, students on what academic grade they would give their parents and others as parents. The results were eye opening and disappointing, to say the least.

I asked approximately 200 students each, exactly the same fifteen constructed questions. Taken into consideration were their high school year, ethnic background and religion. All these students had similar complaints about their parents, including the devastating breakdown in communication- mainly the severe lack of listening and a reasonable grasp of understanding young people’s slow growth into adulthood. There was also an extreme lack of discussions on the prevention of alcohol drugs, sex and violence. Lack of knowledge or understanding of current school curriculum or activities took a distant fourth place. When a teenager is struggling in a particular area, the last thing they want to do is to tell someone who “doesn’t want to hear about my problems,” said a 16-year-old boy, who regularly retreats to his bedroom where he cranks up his stereo and submerges himself in violent music while he gulps down another shot of rum, or whatever is on hand that night.

When all scores were totaled and averaged out, parents scored a below average “C.”

Unfortunately, today there are more parents working two jobs or longer hours in order to keep up with inflation and the continuing effort to keep their heads above the waters of debt. There are more divorced parents or single parent families than before struggling to make financial ends meet. Parents inevitably want more for their children than they had themselves, thus creating more self-debt. What needs to be reestablished is how time spent with these priceless commodities is impeccably important, and to stop sacrificing quality time to keep up with the Joneses.

Gone are the days when families ate together and spent quality time discussing the events of the day around the dinner table. What happened? Well, in a nutshell, parents have allowed themselves to become disconnected from the small important tasks that once were considered to be a parent’s job, but now are done by paid professionals. Also, one cannot dismiss that it has become more important to parents that they are viewed as “cool,” and characterize themselves as their children’s friend rather than a disciplinary parent.

I would like to note for the record, there are exceptional parents out there, who sacrifice, participate and involve themselves in every aspect of their children’s lives. They too have their share of day-to-day struggles, but what sets them above everyone else is that they are able to work through these difficult times, and continue to move onwards and upwards. To those parents, I applaud you, and keep up the good work.

In my many discussions, I was shocked that I actually got some students to reluctantly admit that they like rules and curfews. Their reasons why included: “It shows me that my parents care who I’m hanging with, and that I make it home safely” or “I like it when my parents tell me I have to be home by 11:00, they don’t want me to get into any trouble.” But the best one was “my parents are the adults, and I’m still a kid, I respect my parents, and they trust me, I don’t want to ruin that.”

I believe if you offer parents and individuals the tools and solutions to deal with today’s youths and those nagging, annoying day-to-day irritants, the reward is experiencing a deeper, closer relationship with your teenager.

So on that note, I beg of you be a parent first - your kids will appreciate it. Be consistent and always look beneath the surface, pay attention to what’s going on around your teen, ask lots questions and overload them with love and affection. After all, are we not raising our children to leave home safely, and with healthy solid values and morals? Kids learn by mimicking their parents. Let’s raise the grade from a ‘C’ to an ‘A.’

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