With respect to a teen’s ability to postpone sexual activity, it turns out that dads may have up to TWICE the influence of moms. (If you are a mom reading this, you might want to forward this to your child’s father!) A study published in 2009 in the journal Child Development showed that dads’ knowledge of teens’ friends translated to less teen sexual activity. Even more influential was time spent together: “The impact of family time overall was even more striking. One additional family activity per week predicted a 9 percent drop in sexual activity.” What about Mom’s influence? The study hypothesized that Dad’s effect on Mom, supporting childrearing, may be a significant key to understanding these findings. That brings up the question: What if a father is absent or uninvolved? It just means that a mother has to be extra aware of her teens’ vulnerability, and encourage other positive influences such as involvement in sports or church (or other religious group), enlisting mentors, etc.
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- Teens rank parents as the #1 influence on their sexual decisions.
- 88 percent of teens say it would be easier to postpone sexual activity if they were able to have more open, honest conversations with their parents.
- 6 out of 10 teens say their parents are their role models for healthy, responsible relationships.
What do you believe? Is this truth?
Do you have what it takes to answer the tough questions your son or daughter has for you?
After examining my own life as a father, I can’t stress enough parental involvement in the lives of our children. This means every area, especially the tough ones. Where is your child getting their information? You have the power to lead, guide and direct? But are you really making a difference?
We want to hear form you, for a lot of reasons. We want to hear what challenges you are facing, we want to hear success stories and also the stories that are heartbreaking. We want you to know we are here to help. Write us back, I am curious to see your responses.
Are idle hands the devil’s tool, or is keeping busy becoming an obstacle to your child’s personal development? These days our children seemed to be grouped in two categories; the over committed students who are involved in every sport and extracurricular activity offered in a 50 mile radius, and the typical student who comes home and vegges on TV and the internet who occasionally peeks their head out to eat or briefly interact with other members of the household when forced. In the midst of all this, whether your child is involved in what is perceived as constructive or wasteful is there enough time being devoted to what truly matters? Do kids get enough time with their parents? Is there enough time devoted to relationship building in the home amongst family?
It’s not easy to reach out teens these days. There seem to be many distractions and little time. Not to mention, our teens think adults are from another planet. So what can we do to make your life easier? Nothing! But, we can empower you to jump in there and start talking to your teen. Our first tip, make the first move. Put yourself out there and let your teen know you are interested in understanding their world. This doesn’t have to be awkward, just try and meet them on their level. One effective way to carve out time for you and your teen to talk is by creating time in your week, preferably everyday, but at least twice a week that you have family time. This can be as simple as dinner together or game night/activity night. Having fun with your teen is the best way to get them to open up. You never know how much this means to them.
Secondly, tell them more about you. When parents let their guard down and open up to their teens, it creates an atmosphere of sharing. What were your interests in high school? What was life like for you? What is your favorite thing about life? Lastly, tell them how you feel. I know teens roll their eyes a lot, and tend to moan and groan when adults talk, but even when they roll their eyes, their ears are still working. Reminding your teen that you love them and letting them know you are concerned about their well being is reassuring. By spending more time with you, your teen will begin to understand your values and standards as a parent. These are just a few ways to engage your teen to open up, do you have any suggestions? Comments?
As I began thinking about a new post for this week, I noticed that of the ten facts cited last week from FamilyFacts.org, mothers were mentioned specifically 4 times, and fathers only once. You are important, dads; sorry if we made you feel overlooked. Here’s something to prove it.
And lest our readers feel they are being insulted for not spending enough time with their kids, let me encourage you. We at W4YM know you are doing the best that you can. We simply want to encourage you to keep at it. Simple things and moments matter.
Case in point: One of my favorite memories with my father is of a shopping trip we took to a local discount warehouse. I was 13. My parents had divorced, and I was spending a Saturday with my father. He had some grocery shopping to do. So, we hopped in the car, ran to a local grocery store and bought green apples, peanuts, and Cokes. Munching our goodies en route, we drove on to the warehouse, where we spent the afternoon eating every possible sample offered us (trying for seconds and thirds when we could!), and eyeing all the fun toys and silly gadgets we couldn’t rationalize buying. My dad talked with me, laughed at my jokes, and bought me a candy bar before we left the store. Maybe there was something in the chocolate but, almost 20 years later, I can still pinpoint that day in my mind.
And I am not so old that I think a 13-year-old today wouldn’t enjoy something similar. Don’t think you have to do something amazing to entertain them. Like my dad did, grab a snack, take those moments, and make them count.
A “Bleg,” if you don’t already know, is a blog with a request. This time, I am requesting your ideas for ways to spend quality time with your kids this summer. So let’s hear them! Post your ideas as comments to this entry.
Check out this post from Vanessa Van Petten, author of You’re Grounded!
In light of last week’s blog, there is an interesting report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. The report, published in September, shows that the more frequently a family eats together, the less likely the children are to become involved with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. You can download a free copy of the report from CASA’s website.
It is hard to find time for a busy family to eat together, but it is absolutely necessary. According to research from the Heritage Foundation, teenagers who eat meals with their families experience less emotional distress and are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. Eating is necessary, and eating together gives a family time to get to know each other (by discussing events that happened during the day), time to form memories, and sometimes, time to hash out those really deep issues that can occasionally come up.
How do you do it? Make it a priority! In my family, I knew that I couldn’t hang out with friends during dinner time, unless a friend joined us for dinner. In return, my parents made the effort to be home from work and to cook a meal. We always sat down to eat, and turned off the TV and background music. Then we asked each other questions. Here are some samples:
- What projects are you currently working on?
- If we could go anywhere for vacation and money weren’t an issue, where would you want to go?
- What is the best thing that has happened to you this week?
- What was your highest high and lowest low of the last month?
- What do you think of X that happened in the news this week?
- If you were running for president in 2008, what would your platform be?
A final note to remember: everyone has to participate. If parents do all the talking, they seem uninterested in their children, but if they do all the asking, it may seem like they are grilling their children!