As we come to the end of summer and kids start going back to school parents and the like start to worry for little Johnny and sweet little Sally. With all the issues that are going in the world, we as adults start to think that our kid’s future is not as bright as ours was as kids. However, there is compelling research, not to mention anecdotal evidence, that there is a brighter side of adolescence than perhaps previously thought.
Data collected from more than 2,700 middle and high school students by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) reveal that most young people feel good about their progress on the key developmental tasks of establishing an identity, achieving independence, and building meaningful relationships with peers. In addition, the majority of teens say they are happy almost every day and perceive themselves as friendly (77 percent), honest (72 percent), and smart (72 percent).
These statistics are promising, but in the face of what we hear around us, why would these numbers look like this and is there a recipe for this. The research also found that the why is because young people who spend time with their parents, talk with them, and feel close to them are overwhelmingly less likely to drink (62 percent vs. 43 percent) or to use other drugs (87 percent vs. 77 percent) than are those who don’t.
I encourage and advise parents to instill family time into their regular routine so that your kids can experience spending time with you.
Therefore, in order to maintain strong family connections and to practice “family time,” we must put deliberate thought into it. In addition, we must see it as a higher calling activity of which we should be compelled to act upon with a positive and cheerful attitude. The reality is that, in this busy world, we make time to schedule doctor appointments and for many other miscellaneous activities, such as taking our kids to soccer practice. I suggest that you give “family time” the same value as all of your other activities that you prioritize throughout the day.
In my book, The 7 Principles of Faith-Based Parenting, I stress the importance of intentionally creating “family time.” This includes all the different units in the family network. Thus, I devote an entire section in Chapter 2 “A Family Affair” to helping the reader see the significance of “family time” as well as providing strategies for creating quality “family time.”
“Family Time” is a time of truth. It is a time to communicate with your kids about whatever is going on – internally and externally. Over the years, it is how my wife and I cultivated and instilled confidence and greater faith in our children’s pursuit of their dreams. It is what I call “Dream Building” (an intentional way of giving “Family Energy” to the pursuit of dreams and goals). This is significant because most people do not see the pursuit of dreams and goals as a family effort.
“Family Time” is probably the most important time of the day for families to connect and reinforce bonds. Regardless of what time of the day it occurs, its’ the most important piece to ensuring that families stay connected. This is key. When you do not maintain consistent “family time,” it is much more difficult to keep strong connections and clear communication with loved ones.
So, while there remain clear and present dangers to young people (think underage drinking, other drug use, early intimate sexual behavior, bullying, violence, and suicide), we are wise to balance the bad news with the good. As a teen once put it in a special edition of Newsweek, “Against all odds, I’m just fine.”
The more we put time in with our adolescence the more likely they are going to be “just fine”!