Family: the Best Medicine

The American College of Pediatricians wants the “Best for Children” and therefore seeks to educate parents, children and policymakers on the critical role that family plays in a child’s life.  The natural family has been conceptually battered and bruised in recent decades.  Children are suffering as a result.  A family, formed and nurtured within the secure environment of a loving marriage between a man and a woman, is the optimal childrearing setting which leads a child to make healthful decisions.

Since prevention is always the “best medicine,” the College offers the following suggestions to maximize a family’s health throughout a child’s life cycle.

  1. Nurture your Marriage. This is foundational to the success of childrearing and the family.
  2. Parent your child authoritatively, which is a balanced approach to childrearing. Teach the high value of responsible, respectful behavior.
  3. Make raising your child a High Priority in your life. Be available and be involved in his or her life.
  4. Build Family:
    1. Teach that marriage is Forever. Model it and talk about it.
    2. Do things Together: recreation, vacation, worship, community service.
    3. Create the Family Table at an early age.
    4. Teach your child about your faith and convictions.
    5. Limit your child’s exposure and involvement with Electronic Media.
    6. Know your child’s Friends and monitor his/her whereabouts.
    7. Know the parents of your child’s friends.
  5. Don’t be intimidated by Adolescence
    1. Be Involved in his or her life.
    2. Set Limits.  Teens are not simply small adults; they need your wise advice and direction.
    3. Know your child’s friends.
    4. Monitor your teen’s exposure to digital media. Restrict exposure to inappropriate media and settings.
    5. Require Healthy Lifestyle: sleep, nutrition, exercise, limited screen time, etc.
    6. Teach your child about Sex and how/why to avoid sexual activity before marriage. Delay one-on-one dating until late teens.
    7. Teach your child about the value of Marriage and choosing the right spouse at the right time.
  6. Be Available to your older adolescent
    1. Offer “coaching” advice.
    2. Give freedoms as his/her maturity allows: driving, travel, home alone, etc.
  7. Encourage your child to make mature marriage decisions to:
    1. Avoid cohabitation. This will harm your future marriage.
    2. Wait until your education is completed
    3. Secure a job before marrying.
    4. Wait until mature: after 19 years of age before marrying
    5. Find a spouse with similar spiritual values
    6. Get in-depth premarital counseling
  8. Parents: Enjoy your hard-earned relationship with your adult child.
  9. Result: Married couple pledges life-long commitment and makes the marriage the highest priority. They seek conflict resolution as needed and marriage enrichment always.  Their children benefit and the healthy family cycle is perpetuated.

Family: It’s the Best Social Network

Although the ideal setting for a child to be reared is by his or her married, biological parents, marital disharmony and varying circumstances do result in the break-up of families.  For advice on blended families, read Tips for Stepfamily Success.