Voices of parents and teachers

The biggest thing for parents to develop in children is self-esteem - encouraging them in their strong points. It's devastating to compare children, though it's very hard not to. It's a matter of comparing them to themselves. They are the measuring rod.

It's very hard for some parents to take a stand. I think you've got to stand up for what you believe. If the kids see this, they'll eventually understand. It's not easy, but you hope it will pay off later.

We have insisted with our children that if you start something, you have to stick it out. If kids have been raised to have the freedom to start and stop, start and stop any activity whenever they want, I'm afraid it will be a lot easier in later life to start and stop things like relationships and jobs. Marilyn Hedstrom, mother of nine, Hopkins, Minn.

As we get older we tend to underestimate the trials and decisionmaking that kids and adolescents have to go through on a daily basis at school. It's traumatic. It's hard. It's exhausting. We look at our own problems and seem to underestimate their problems. But they are tremendous in their eyes.

Kids on the whole wish they had more restrictions. They find they cannot set their own boundaries and their own limitations, and they'd like to have some structure. Penny Kodrich, school psychologist, Eden Prairie, Minn.

In those families where the mom works to help out the whole family, and the kids see how they are beneficiaries of that and have responsibilities because of it, and it's part of a family enterprise, it's my experience that it's more helpful than harmful. But the bad one is when, for whatever reason, one or both parents begin to feel so overwhelmed by the combined responsibilities of work and kids that they use the benefits of the job to get away from the kids. The results of that are devastating.

The strongest influence on any kid's life is the parent. Some parents don't recognize it because when they experience conflict they tend to feel they're no longer important. They begin to feel sorry for themselves and stop being a force or a presence in a kid's life. There isn't any doubt in my mind in working with kids and parents that those parents who remain an active force in kids' lives are far and away the most important influence. Robert St. Clair, junior high school principal and father of six, Hopkins, Minn.

Teens are pushing limits, trying to see how far you'll let them go. They're screaming loudly to get you to change the limits. Yet they do want limits.

I think parents who give a lot of love can get away with stricter discipline; it's a tradeoff. If you really convince a child of his worth in your eyes, that he is precious and important to you, then you really don't have a problem with discipline. Mother of four teens, Needham, Mass.

What do teen-agers want? They want their parents to help them grow up. And they want their parents to listen to them, instead of just judging them and nagging them. They want their parents to give them good firm guidelines, but flexible ones. I think they also want more responsibility - maybe because I want it for them.

Parents need to treat them as important individuals, which means listening. And it means allowing them to have opinions. You don't have to agree with it, but you've got to listen to it.

You don't just create an instantly helpful child by saying, 'I need you, you'd better do this.' You have to work at it. But when you've trained them - because you do have to train kids - they do take satisfaction from it. They eventually realize their lives run better when they do their share.

Kids who have a talent or an ability or are involved in sports or something that they want to pursue in school are very lucky. Very seldom are those the kids that really fall apart. Beth Winship, author of syndicated teen-age column, ''Ask Beth''

I don't see parents and other adults around who are willing to take the responsibility for telling kids when they're stepping out of line. I think back to the small town where my grandmother lived and in which I spent a lot of time. Those little ladies wouldn't have thought twice about saying, ''My dear, stop swinging on that door!'' But now we just sit back. Susan Morrill, mother of three, Hopkins, Minn.

You have to keep in mind that you can't start something when a kid is 15. You can't expect him to be the way you want him to be if you only start communicating with him when he's 15. He's had too many years to develop things from the street, from other people. You've got to start when they're babies.It isn't as if you tell a kid today, 'This is this,' and he does it. It's a continuing thing. I guess that's what you call rearing a kid. Instead of letting him grow up like a wild thing, you cultivate him. Faye Parker, mother of four teen-agers, Boston

There's a direct correspondence to the influence of the peers on them and the type of home situation they have. If they're happy in their home situation and it's supportive and it's good - good in the sense that it has all those criteria of loyalty and love and unity that a good family has - the impact of the peers is much less. The further you're away from the ideal home, the more intense the peer relationships.

Strong parents aren't afraid. They figure if kids don't like what the rules of the house are, what the rules of raising them are, that's too bad. They'll appreciate it later. Therese Burke, mother of four, Needham, Mass.

We confuse so many things in this country, with the myths we have. Take the myth of emotional maturity and intellectual sophistication being one and the same. Well, our kids are intellectually sophisticated but they're certainly not emotionally mature. And parents have to understand that.

I know a lot of parents who think that because their kids are teen-agers, they don't need them. Kids really need someone to come home to. While it's difficult oftentimes for working parents, I don't have as much problem with the working parents as the parents who are not working who are parents in absentia. They're always at the club or they're always doing something. Dr. Theodore Duchene, pediatrician, Salem, Mass.

Kids are so misled by everything having to be sexual - by everything in our culture that promotes sexuality. Gloria Niese, high school teacher, Wellesley, Mass.

It's hard all of a sudden to let go of a sense of parenting and home.

It's the unknown: ''I don't know where they are.'' You have to start developing your trust. Pauline Arbanella, mother of four, Rockford, Ill.

School personnel find that when you have a parent on your side, your chances of coping with a particular student, whatever his problem, are greatly enhanced. When a parent walks in and says, 'I'm on your side, I want my child to succeed and I'm sure you do,' your chances of winning are pretty good. Dean G. Berntsen, high school principal, Minneapolis

If you stick with a kid - stick like glue, no matter what - problems can all work out. But you've really got to stick. You don't take anything for granted. And you can't be naive. John Michealchuck, father, Rockford, Ill.

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