Some good news for families

Guest editorial

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2001

The following editorial appeared Aug. 16 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

Sometimes it seems like the only news about today's young people is bad news. Violence, drugs, delinquency and the general breakdown of the American family are familiar themes.

In the midst of these depressing headlines, experts say the antidote lies in families spending more time together. Easy for the experts to say. Busy schedules for parents and kids often make it difficult for families to connect long enough to talk about what's for dinner, let alone make time for in-depth discussions. Soccer practice, homework and maintaining a social life translates into kids who seem too busy for family time.

But a recent national pool found a different answer: Kids actually value spending time with their families.

The Horatio Alger Association, a Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to increasing educational opportunities, last week released the "State of Our Nation's Youth." Through a telephone survey of more than 1,000 high school students, nearly all said they feel they can confide in someone in their family. Almost half said they would select a family member - not a pop icon or sports star - as a role model.

That's good news, Mom and Dad - your kids are more interested in emulating you than Christina Aguilera or Dennis Rodman, or whoever happens to be popular at the moment. In addition, more than a quarter of those surveyed blamed school violence on parents spending too little time with their children.

Here's one more interesting thought: 84 percent of teens said they will judge their future success by whether they have close family relationships - not by making money or achieving fame.

As the busy summer months give way to another busy school year, Alaska families will be juggling jobs, work, school and seemingly endless extracurricular activities.

In the middle of all that, you might think your kids are just too busy for quality time. As it turns out, even if they are busy, it's still a priority for them. Make the effort to spend a moment with them, whether it's a family dinner night, a no-TV night or just a quick chat at the end of the day.

It's important to them.

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