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Instead of School Supplies, Give 'Life Supplies'
Expert Reveals Back To School Tips on Friendships & Dating Parents Should Offer Kids
It's no secret that involved parents make for more stable teens, but a study released this month confirms it.

According to a new study published in the journal Child Development, teenaged girls with involved fathers tended to practice safer sex than those without. Specifically, teens with involved fathers tend to use safe sex to protect against STDs more than other teens. According to the article, mothers are important to teen sexual behavior, but fathers have twice the effect.

"Too many people talk in abstracts about communicating with their kids," said Mark Hansen, author of Success 101 for Teens: 7 Traits for a Winning Life from Paragon House (www.success101forteens.com). "You have to talk about specific issues, and this study makes it clear that the risks of not talking to your kids about the important things are great."

Hansen, a former West Palm Beach, FL School Board member, thinks that the weeks prior to the start of school is the perfect time for parents to discuss not only dating and sex, but friendships in general, with their kids.

"Teenage sexuality is always a provocative topic, but the truth is many kids wind up in trouble not because of sex, but because they've simply chosen the wrong friends," Hansen said. "At the beginning of every school year, kids meet new friends every day, and it's important to recognize that sitting next to a guy who feeds you answers in English class is not necessarily the best basis for a friendship. As adults, we evaluate our friendships based on whether people share our interests and values. If parents taught their kids to approach their friendships in the same manner, they may discover they have fewer problems with their children hanging out with the 'wrong crowd.'"

Hansen believes there are seven traits kids should look for in themselves, as well as in their friends:

  • Determination means being committed to what you want to achieve and making sure you are mentally and physically prepared.

  • Responsibility revolves around accepting full responsibility for ourselves. We are each the only example of who we are, we are each in charge of our own behavior and actions.

  • Confidence is about believing in yourself, because if you don't believe in yourself, no one will.

  • Love means understanding the power of that emotion. It has the power to drive us to do both wonderful and dreadful things, and we must be able to manage that power with wisdom and judgment.

  • Persistence maintains that you must stick to what you are looking to achieve and continue forward with making sure what you are doing is supporting what you want to accomplish.

  • Dreams are important, because they are the fuel for our engines. We must keep each of our dreams alive, each of our personal dreams that we have for ourselves.

  • Attitude is about making choices. Each morning when we wake up we have a choice and that attitude we take for ourselves is our choice. A consistent positive attitude is the attitude we need to have in order to accomplish all of our dreams.

"Every day there are discussions in the media about problems with our youth," Hansen said. "Just read the papers each day. My belief is that we must counter that attack and provide a step by step guide for our youth to follow, empowering them for a winning life."

About Mark Hansen
Mark Hansen is a successful businessman and a former elected official who relates to struggles in adolescence because he went through tough times after being hit by a car as a child. His struggle to overcome partial paralysis and regain the abilities to walk and talk underscores the passion he has for teaching young people the lessons he learned the hard way.

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