Tips can help keep kids safe
By Carrington Cunnington Project H.E.L.P. January 22, 2013 10:24PM
Carrington Cunnington, Volunteer, Project H.E.L.P. of the Exchange Club of Naperville, 1815 W. Diehl Rd., Naperville, Il 60540
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:09AM
Welcome to the Collaborative Youth Team’s column, “Parenting Matters!” The team is a partnership of 20 youth and family serving organizations and agencies. Each month, a different partner will offer practical tips for restoring balance within our families and for building resiliency in our youth. This month’s column is by Carrington Cunnington, volunteer for Project HELP of the Exchange Club of Naperville.
Spend 10 minutes on any major media outlet and you’ll encounter story after story to strike fear into a parent’s heart. It’s hard to escape the rampant drug use, sexual promiscuity and violence in our culture today.
Parents in particular can struggle with the negative events around us, viewing them not only as unfortunate signs of our times but also fretting over how to ensure their own children do not end up inspiring the next terrifying headline. Thankfully, parents can have a tremendous positive impact on the choices of their children. Far from being powerless or irrelevant, parents who exercise deliberate and active involvement with their children in a few key ways can effectively prevent many of the devastating effects associated with drugs, sexual promiscuity, and violence. Dr. Michael H. Popkin, a parenting expert and founder of Active Parenting Publishers Inc., pinpoints the following specific ways in which parents can help their children avoid the pitfalls of many dangers in modern culture:
1. Build a strong parent-child relationship. Parents that are either too controlling or too permissive can unintentionally drive a child toward rebellious and dangerous behaviors. By fostering a relationship of mutual respect and by allowing a certain amount of age-appropriate freedom within firmly established boundaries, parents can encourage discipline, communication, and problem solving skills which help their children make positive choices.
2. Instill the fundamental qualities of character. Research widely indicates that when children develop such qualities as courage, self-esteem, responsibility, and cooperation, they are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors. By parenting their children with these specific characteristics in mind, and teaching skills such as decision making, problem solving, and communication, parents equip their children with the tools necessary to resist negative influences.
3. Educate yourself. In order to prevent children from succumbing to risky behaviors, parents must be aware, both of the challenges and temptations their children face as well as how to influence their children in positive ways. Parents must pay attention to their children’s friends, their interests, and how and where they spend their time. Fostering connections with their children’s friends, school, and extracurricular activities will not only keep parents conscious of their children’s environment, but will help maintain a stronger personal relationship with their children through shared knowledge and interests.
Active parenting is crucial in combating the negative influences of a culture impacted by drugs, sex and violence. Parents have not only the power but the obligation to guide their children through increasingly complicated and dangerous terrain. The task may be daunting, but the rewards within our families, our communities, and our culture at large are well worth the effort.
This column is courtesy of KidsMatter, Collaborative Youth Team facilitator. To access the community resource guide and partner contact information, visit www.KidsMatter2us.org.