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I work for a child psychiatrist. Every day we see so many kids aged 12-16 with the same issues. Being at the front desk I have the opportunity to hear a great deal without being noticed. The scenario is always so much the same. The kids are “out of control”. He/she won’t talk to the parents. Parents are heartsick and afraid of the direction their children are headed. The one thing that stands out in all of this is that the old-fashioned connection of family is missing.

Many of the young people have migrated toward gangs or at the least, hang out with the “wrong people”. They are searching to belong to something, someone who cares about them no matter what. That is what family USED to mean. Now-a-days family unfortunately means the people you are related to by blood. Parents appear to be afraid to discipline their children, afraid to talk to them, afraid for their futures. This seems to be caused by the best of intentions.

We all want our children to be happy, to be protected from the struggles of the world. That is a noble and loving idea but in reality it creates distance between parent and child and leaves them totally ill-equipped to deal with the world on any terms.

Family used to be obligated to teach each upcoming generation their history. That history was filled with struggles, accomplishments and triumphs. This simple story-telling yields volumes of principles from which anyone can draw upon for reference in their own lives. It further adds the ability to believe in oneself from the knowledge that the same blood that flowed through the veins of those tough and successful ancestors now flows through this generation.

Family used to spend time together, being involved in mutual goals like working on projects together.

Admittedly, our current times do not require that all members of a family work day and night on the family farm in order to survive. This should not mean that because lifestyles for meeting financial goals have changed, the need to work together is no longer important. There is a camaraderie formed when people of any age work together to a common goal. They share parts of themselves with each other and revel in the success of the completed project. A sort of trust is formed as well as a spiritual bond.

Our children talk to people they trust, ones who they feel know them and love them anyway. They choose friends based on acceptance and how those people make them feel about themselves. If there is little or no communication between family and children those items are not present. Hence, the children are hesitant to talk to “family” who are little more than strangers to them.

It is human nature for people to need people. If our families are fragmented and self-centered by individuals then each person will look for that “connection” elsewhere. Unfortunately, by missing that all-important connection in our existence we tend to loose confidence in ourselves and feel quite lost. We cease to know who we are. Yes, it is important that we are individuals but it cannot be stressed enough that we are part of something more. Our nature is such that we will search for that connection instinctively. Our children search for that now. Many of us as adults search for the same thing. We look for something to give us a sense of validation, a reason for our existence that provides some sort of satisfaction and self-worth.

Many of us look in our jobs, churches, and peers. The result too often is that we find our validation only in what we do for others. We become co-dependent to the world. This is not healthy and worse is that in doing so we teach our children by example that this is the only way. Family… real family in the oldest forms who love, talk, work and play together can provide all those essential needs for all involved.

Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate the structures of our families in our own homes and stop “spoiling” our kids by giving them all the material things we can. We need to give them what they really need... our love, support and the foundation of REAL FAMILY.