Messages from the Masters
Do You Ever Feel Like Attila the Hun? by Michael Grose

With three adolescent children I am convinced that it is kids rather than cholesterol that presents the greatest danger to my health.

When they were young my children more or less agreed with most things I said. Now parenting has become a form of World Series Debating as they increasingly look for ways of gaining more freedom.

Once they laughed at my jokes. Now they simply raise their eyes in mock horror at my futile attempts at humour.

While I was once a model parent who was adored and looked up to. Now as my son recently reminded me, "Normal parents don't act like you!"

The good news is that research projects from around the world indicate that parental arguments with adolescents over setting limits pay off.

Children and young people generally gauge their well being by how much their parents and teachers care for them. Being willing to put a set of boundaries around kids' behaviour in place, preferably with some type of negotiation, and standing firm against any subsequent arguments is a tough way to show you care. But studies have shown that it counts in the long run for kids.

When young people feel that they are connected to their family, school and their community they are less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviours such as, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and marijuana, engage in early sex or have suicidal thoughts.

Connectedness means more than parents loving and caring for their children. Parents who have high but reasonable expectations for their children's social behaviour and performance in school are actually keeping them out of trouble. And those who express their opposition to early sexual activity tend to keep their children from having sex at a young age. Parental disapproval is still something most kids want to avoid.

Staying connected to school can be a challenge for some young people particularly those who don't experience a great deal of success. But connectedness is not necessarily related to academic results. When children and young people perceive that teachers are fair and that they feel part of their school then they have a strong protective factor working for them.

Michael Grose is a popular parenting expert. For great ideas and inspiration to help you raise happy, confident kids and resilient young people, visit for free articles and access to a free advice line.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International