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Making time for Families | suggestions from Spokane.
Time for Family

The only thing that matters
to those approaching death is -
their family and friends. 

No one ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

  • Success with alcohol and drug addiction has a lot to do with parents spending quantity time, not just quality time, with their teens. 

    “The quantity of time (not just quality time) parents spend does indeed matter during adolescence.  The more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, at the fewer instances of delinquent behavior.  And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior.  And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior.”  (Source:  Journal of Marriage and Family, and The Washington Post, March 2015) 

    “Rather than the occasional expensive family vacation alone, research shows the satisfaction with regularly occurring home-based family activities such as eating dinner together, participating in hobbies and informal sports and yard activities together, watching television together, or playing board games together with the father present was the single strongest predictor of all aspects of family functioning, particularly from the youth perspective,” said Ramon B. Zabriskie, professor in BYU’s Marriott School.  What it means is that when it comes to taking a young teen to soccer practice, the time in the car with mom or dad is probably more important than the time on the field with a coach.  (Source:  "Everyday time with dad builds family bond," by Lois M. Collins, Deseret News, June 15, 2012)

    SUCCESS in Iceland:  Iceland experienced unprecedented success at reducing teenage substance abuse for 20 years.  Iceland’s teens were among Europe’s greatest abusers of drugs and alcohol in 1997, but the majority of teens turned away from substance abuse and reduced their drinking, cigarette smoking, and marijuana use to 5% or less by 2016.  

The reason is that the President of Iceland launched Prevention Day with 3 goals: 

        1.    Increase time spent together by adolescents and their families
        2.    Postpone the onset of alcohol use until 18 years of age and over
        3.    Increase adolescent participation in structured and organized youth activities supervised by adults (such as after-school programs)

    Iceland’s teens now get a healthy, “natural high” by spending more time with their parents - quantity time - and engaging in a greater selection of activities in sports, music, dance and the arts.  Helping a youth find a passion is a way to battle the growing plague of opioid abuse and addiction.  Unfortunately, not all youths can afford to pay for those would-be passions.  

    Iceland’s analysis of annual surveys among their teens age 10-16 years, shows that affiliations with family, peer group effects, and types of recreational activities available are the strongest predictors of the paths taken by adolescents. - Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir

    The essence of the Icelandic model is explained by Inga Dóra Sigfússon (ICSRA Director of Youth in Iceland and Youth in Europe):  “Well it’s not magic. It’s simply organized, structured work. We collect the data…(and people are gathered)…teachers, politicians, people from the health care center, the church, the sports club. They gather parents of course. We go through the situation and just talk about how the situation is. This is how your children are feeling, this is what they want and here there is a rise, here is a decline. We follow this up so that the information gets into action as soon as possible.”

    Where do we go from here?  In her closing remarks at the UN Special Session, Professor Sigfúsdóttir presented her view on how to move forward:  

    “In a world where there are practically no cultural or national boundaries anymore - AND cyberspace is without limits - teenagers are mobile in more than one sense of the word.

    “In this kind of world, we know that it is only through joining forces, by learning from each other and basing our work on trustworthy research, by which we will succeed in fighting substance use. It is not an easy task. But - based on research - we know it can be done - with guardianship, community attachment and informal social control. We will not change anything by single project solutions. Prevention needs to be consistent and comprehensive - not one campaign, but a quiet revolution!

    “If you want to replicate what happened in Iceland, here is what I recommend you to do:

        1.    Minimize unsupervised adolescent time periods
        2.    Create more activity, frequently and in structured ways
        3.    Delay ‘first drink’ onset
        4.    Base your efforts at a community level - where things can get done, practically and quickly
        5.    Get your Presidents and elected leadership to campaign for this venture

    (Source:  * On April 19, 2016 The Icelandic Model: Evidence Based Primary Prevention - 20 Years of Successful Primary Prevention Work was featured at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem. https://www.unodc.org/ungass2016/en/side_events1.html; Youth in Iceland and Youth in Europe; Iceland Succeeds at Reversing Teenage Substance Abuse The U.S. Should Follow Suit, by Harvey B. Milkman, Ph.D., Huffington Post, 2016; and Study Shows quantity time beats quality time with teens, by Doug Wilks, Deseret News, July 30, 2017) 

What Parents Can Do

We have so many time-saving devices
today, but never enough time to do all the things that shout for our attention and time; and so often it is family time that is neglected. 

  • Set aside an evening or Saturday to turn off your cell phone, iPod, television, computer…and spend quality time with your family, having fun together, and teaching family values.  
  • Make family decisions together (family rules, discipline, family calendar, budgeting, dating, etc.).  All families have challenges.  Schedule a weekly family meeting to provide an opportunity for expressing opinions and feelings, discussing the calendar of activities, learning to solve problems, and feeling connected to the family group.  Discuss both what is going right, and what needs to be improved.  
  • Give kids your time, the greatest gift a parent can give—so they know they matter.  What children want from their parents is more time, not more stuff.  
Time with a child forms a bond of love which far surpasses anything that could be purchased.  Toys and other things parents buy for their children eventually break down, wear out and are forgotten; but, those precious moments spent together will last forever. 
  • Call home when you are out of town.  Keep commitments to your children, and organize your schedule to make family first.  
  • Make time to provide a warm, caring environment in your home, and your children will love being home.   Create a home of faith, order, truth, love, and happiness.  
  • Make home a safe place where children know parents will listen and allow their children to share their feelings and speak their minds respectfully. Be a good listener.   Help them explore the source of their feelings and consequences, showing your children that they are worthy of your time and attention.  
  • Take time for fun and activities which are non-corrective, non-critical times, as well as opportunities to just talk.  Children need loving relationships.  If they don’t have it with parents and family, they will find it with someone else—perhaps a peer who doesn’t have your values.  Youth will be influenced by the persons they have relationships with.  Children choose friends who approve of them and treat them nicely.  Parents often criticize the friends of their children and everything they are doing.  Try to say positive things to your children.  Take time to build good, loving, close relationships with your children.  

  • The movie rating system is designed for parents, to help them guide their children, but it is not perfect.  Simply relying on the Motion Picture Association of America to make choices for you or your children is a mistake, because their ratings are all about money, not helping parents feel more informed when it comes to family movie night.  The book "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? - a Parent's Guide to Movie Ratings" by Chris Hicks, was written to help parents make more informed entertainment decisions, specifically related to movies. 
  • Make time to get children to talk to you.  Give them a snack, sit down to talk, and they will too!
  • Show that you care.  When a large group of prison inmates were asked, “What was it that brought you here as inmates of this penitentiary?”  Almost without exception, they answered, “We are here in the state penitentiary, because there came a time in our lives when we were made to feel that nobody cared what happened to us.” 
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