Numerous, well-designed and well-powered studies, utilizing the Adolescent Health (AD Health) database have confirmed what all previous generations never needed to be taught. Parents who maintain a close, healthy and connected relationship with their children offer the best protection from the health risk behaviors that wound, cripple and dramatically alter the life trajectories of millions of children.
Although these data may seem obvious to some, our entertainment-driven, anything-goes culture has minimized – and even ridiculed – the importance of intact families and parental involvement in the lives of children. For example, Hollywood routinely portrays fathers as little more than useful idiots who need saving, usually by their wisecracking teenager.
This chronic devaluing of family life is not without cost. Addiction, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, depression and suicide are endemic among American teens. At the same time, adults and policymakers have become “shockproof” while kids are killing one another other, their futures, and themselves. The good news is that there is ample evidence that parental involvement is a modifiable protective factor in both the initiation and course of these deadly conditions that are now nearing epidemic proportions in the US.