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Wisdom for parents

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By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

I once was a dad to teenagers. Boy, was that ever a long time ago!

The other day I read a Facebook post from my middle daughter Lori, a former high school chemistry teacher and now a homeschooling mom, who, along with my son-in-law, Paul, are raising three beautiful teenagers. That’s not to say these parents always see their kids as beautiful. There are days when … well, if you’re a parent, you know what I mean.

Parenting isn’t a mechanical activity like washing the dishes or driving a car. It requires a substantial amount of moral judgment and emotional stability. I don’t know how well I did as their father (parents aren’t usually the best judges of their own handiwork) but my daughter is quite a good mom.

Thus I want to step aside and give Lori the stage for a few minutes. I am offering you, verbatim, the post that impressed me – a post I hope you will either implement as a parent or pass along to anyone who is a parent, and especially the parent of teenaged girls. I’m also providing a link to the website she cites, in case you’d like to check it out.

“As a mom, I have found that my daughters’ friendships have typically been more difficult to help them navigate than my son’s. I like the list of steps here that parents can take to help empower their kids.

“I would add: First, you can’t teach emotional intelligence that you don’t possess. Moms and Dads need to take a hard look at their own behavior and learn to resolve their own issues in healthy ways. If we could all do this, it would go a LOOOONG way towards helping our kids.

“Second, as much as possible, maintain open dialog with the parents of your kids’ friends. Establish early on that you want parents to come to you if your child has hurt theirs, and let them know that you are committed to addressing it in healthy ways.

“Oddly enough, this isn’t always well received. Some parents like to bury their heads in the sand (in which case, they need to see my first point). When other parents choose not to be forthright, you can still monitor your kids’ behavior in other ways, and you need to be honest with yourself about whether it falls into the “mean girls” category.

“Third, even the nicest girls do mean girl stuff sometimes. They are learning. But they won’t learn how to do it right if we are unwilling to correct them.

“Finally, if your go-to for dealing with your daughter’s (or son’s, for that matter) problematic behavior is anger and retribution, you are compounding the problem. Ask for help. It’s out there.”

All God’s blessings – Mark

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Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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