Connecting with your
young child -
The gift of a lifetime
How many more years will it be before your child's a teenager? What health and safety concerns do you have for your child today? Are drugs and alcohol, smoking, sex, or emotional distress on your list? According to a recent $25 million federal study that surveyed 90,000 students in grades 7-12 across the country, they should be.
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, published in the September (1997) Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that feeling loved, understood, and paid attention to by parents helps teenagers avoid high-risk activities regardless of whether a child comes from a one- or two-parent family. When a father talks gently to his newborn daughter while changing her diaper, or mother looks directly in her son's eyes and smiles as they chat about the day, or a caregiver sings a child to sleep, young children feel connected and loved.
The Adolescent Health Survey concluded that the presence of parents at home at "key times" - in the morning, after school, at dinner and at bedtime - made teens less likely to use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. And even more important than quantity of time spent, the study concluded that feeling connected to parents was five times more powerful in helping teens avoid high-risk activities.