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For the article, I interviewed Alberto Alvarez, Chief Juvenile Officer
of the county probation department. Alvarez said he believed the main
reason more young people are getting in trouble is poor parenting. He
said no government program could change the rising tide of juvenile
I have to say that I agree with him.
There are instances when a child is raised correctly but turns out bad
anyway. But for the most part, if a child is taught how to act at an
early age and has parents that expect him or her to act right as they
grow up, that child will be less likely to get into trouble.
My own children are grown and out on their own now. Although there were
times with all of them when I thought they would drive me crazy, they
have all turned out to be pretty good adults. I'm not trying to say I
was a perfect parent, because I wasn't. I made my share of mistakes
What I have noticed is that it seems some parents raise their children
with the same mistakes their parents made with them. Some parents
improve a little in parenting skills by not making the same mistakes as
their parents made.
But that's kind of a hit and miss deal. Some people make better parents
than their parents did and some don't. It seems that more and more don't.
As is often said at graduation ceremonies this time of year, our
children are our future. To squander such an asset by not training them
in how to become a good adult is a shame.
We require people to be of a certain age and demonstrate their
proficiency before they get a drivers license or a gun permit but we
make no requirement of proficiency before someone can become a parent.
There are very few places a person can even get training on parenting.
Even if parenting education was more readily available the people that
need it the most probably wouldn't take it. If demonstrating that you
knew how to be a good parent was required before getting a marriage
license there is no way to make a parent practice good parenting when
they do have a child.
Just as there is no government program that can cure the growing problem
with juvenile crime in this country, so there is no required program
that would make adults be better parents. Such a change has to come from
more parents wanting to be better parents. I think that can only happen
if more adults realize the importance of being a good parent.
How do you make bad parents realize they need to become good parents? I
don't know, do you?
If you have any suggestions about cures for our nation's growing
problems with youth send me an E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will see
that your suggestions are published both on our Website E-mail Forum and
on the opinion pages of the Pecos Enterprise.
Editor's Note: Rick Smith is an Enterprise writer and city editor whose
column appears each Monday.
DR. DOBSON: They are right - but we should recognize that every other
occupation is boring, too.
How exciting is the work of a telephone operator who plugs and unplugs
switchboard connections all day long? Or a medical pathologist who
examines microscopic slides and bacterial cultures from morning to
night? Or a dentist who spends his or her lifetime drilling and filling?
Or an attorney who reads dusty books in secluded libraries? Or an author
who writes page after page?
Few of us enjoy heart-thumping excitement each moment of our
On a trip to Washington, D.C., my hotel was located next to the room of
a famous cellist who was in the city to give a classical concert that
evening. I could hear him through the walls as he practiced hour after
He did not play beautiful symphonic renditions; he repeated scales and
runs and exercises over and over and over. The practice began early in
the morning (believe me!) and continued until the time of his concert.
As he strolled on the stage that evening, I'm sure many individuals in
the audience thought to themselves, "What a glamorous life." Some
I happen to know that he spent the entire day in his lonely room in the
company of his cello. Musical instruments, as you know, are terrible
No, I doubt if the job of a housewife and mother is much more boring
than most other jobs, particularly if the woman refuses to be isolated
from adult contact. But as far as the importance of the assignment is
concerned, no job can compete with the responsibility of shaping and
molding a new human being.
May I remind mothers of one more important consideration: you will not
always be saddled with the responsibility you now hold. Your children
will be with you for a few brief years and the obligations you now
shoulder will be nothing more than dim memories.
Enjoy every moment of these days - even the difficult times - and
indulge yourself in the satisfaction of having done an essential job
QUESTION: Some parents feel guilty about demanding respect from their
children because it could be an underhanded way of making themselves
feel powerful and important. What do you think?
DR. DOBSON: I disagree. It is important that a child respect his parents
because that relationship provides the basis for his attitude toward
His view of parental authority becomes the cornerstone for his latter
outlook on school authority, police and the law, the people with whom he
will eventually live and work, and for society in general.
Another equally important reason for maintaining parental respect is
that if you want your child to accept your values when he reaches his
teen years, then you must be worthy of his respect during his younger
When a child can successfully defy his parents during his first 15
years, laughing in their faces and stubbornly flaunting their authority,
he develops a natural contempt for them.
"Stupid old Mom and Dad! I've got them wound around my little finger.
Sure, they love me, but I really think they're afraid of me."
A child may not utter these words, but he feels them each time he
outsmarts his adult companions and wins the confrontations and battles.
Later, he is likely to demonstrate his disrespect in a more open manner.
His parents are not deserving of his respect, and he does not want to
identify with anything they represent.
He rejects every vestige of their philosophy.
Parents must first sell themselves. If they are not worthy of respect,
then neither is their country, their morals, their governments, their
religion or any of their values. This becomes the "generation gap" at
its most basic level.
These questions and answers are excerpted from the book Dr. Dobson
Answers Your Questions. Dr. James Dobson is a psychologist, author and
president of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to
the preservation of the home. Correspondence to Dr. Dobson should be
addressed to: Focus on the Family, P.O. Box 444, Colorado Springs, CO
(c), 1982, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
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