Today’s parents are often absentee parents, even if they live at home with their kids. Modern times idealize youth — adults often celebrate and revere youth and have forgotten that young people are generally immature and need the involvement and guidance of adults — especially their parents.

Janet and I have two success stories: Cindy married Ben, Jesse married Anna and both couples are better than any parents could hope for — and our 4th grandchild will make his debut in January 2005. But this was not without involvement and love, discipline and direction.

We now have our last two teenagers moving along toward adulthood. Our 17 - almost 18 -year old has a boy friend in another state and they are quite serious about each other. Janet and I took him to dinner a few weeks ago and had a real heart-to-heart talk with him. He was sincere, honest. and a gentleman. We approved of their relationship as long as strong guidelines, which we specified, were maintained.

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At moments like this parents need to be involved with kindness and understanding, yet be firm and insist on communication and honesty. Janet and I took our daughter serious enough to visit the young man’s parents this weekend. We flew into their state, got our hotel room, and joined his parents for dinner. His parents are very good folks. We had delightful conversation over a delicious dinner. They also care deeply about their son, are involved in his life, and they also want the relationship to move slowly, sanely, and non-physically. We put our heads together, came up with mutual guidelines, and affirmed love and concern for our kids – we were on the same page.

We see potential in the relationship but want to watch and guide it carefully. Hopefully the young folks will respect their parents and work with us over time. If the young folks work with us they will not regret it but be happier in the long run. If this relationship comes to fruition, we will all celebrate another success story.

(Picture: Steve and Janet with the other parents celebrating our kids and our mutual understanding. They were delightful folks and we had a marvelous evening. We had a lot in common besides our kids.)

So, what do parents need to do today? Get involved in your kids lives. Don’t assume things will just work out. Don’t let young people charge into life and relationships unguided. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, to say ‘No“ when you need to. Visibly demostrate your love and concern. Keep lines of communication open. Trust but verify. Parents need to fight for their kids — especially today!