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A lot has been written about raising children in the 21st Century.  Times are different.  Paradigms have shifted.  Kids are more influenced by entertainment, social media, marketing, teachers, coaches, activities and the like.  The list goes on and on.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s.  Money was scarce in a blue-collar family.  When Mom wanted a home project done, she knew the cheapest contractor was Dad and his little helper, me.  Now days, most people call a contractor like Birmingham Pro Painters.  You can find them at https://www.facebook.com/Birmingham-Pro-Painters-290036407998561/

My parents thought I had it made because I had all the clothes, toys, a great bike and all I could eat.  My dad would tell me stories of his only toy being a cap pistol and my Mom would tell me of her only doll.  I wondered what their parents had growing up.  Perhaps they made their toys out of sticks and stones.  But growing up into a functional adult is not about what a child has, but it’s about something a lot more substantive.

To raise kids to be productive, successful adults, first patents have to be functional themselves.  Parents with a lot of emotional baggage will pass that onto their children.  A lot of people grew up in homes where a parent abused alcohol and drugs and abused their kids as well.  Then, there’s neglect, another kind of abuse.  Parents will bring the emotional scars from their upbringing into the family and those ripples affect the entire household.  It’s important to recognize emotional problems and deal with them before bringing offspring into the world and perpetuating negative issues.  

Getting professional counseling is a big help, from a pastor or a doctor.  The first step is realizing a problem and committing to getting it fixed.  I’ve always believed that if you need help, get help.  There’s nothing embarrassing about that.  

Next, it’s important to raise kids in a loving environment where they are encouraged and affirmed.  Many parents will wait until their kids do something wrong and then punish or browbeat them after never taking the time to teach them how to do it right.  Correction should be gentle at first.  Taking time to train and explain the why’s and how’s of doing something is just as important as teach them how to do it right.  

I believe parents should focus on the positive and encourage their kid’s right behavior and affirm them as valuable family members.  Treat kids to be respectful to their siblings as well as others and think about the consequences of their words and actions.  Family time is crucial.  In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, parents are running kids all over town to sports practices, ballet, recitals, music lessons, busy, busy, busy.  But what about quality family time at home talking about what’s important to them?  Take the time to listen to your kids.  Teach them values.  Have discussions about current events and what they think about things.  And for the love of God, collect the smart phones and turn them off sometimes!  How can a family have a discussion when the kid’s attention is all in social media?

Raising a family is not easy in the 21st century.  But the old-fashioned values of love, respect, communication, encouragement and affirmation will bring lifelong rewards.