Phenomenal families take lots of work

Helena Rodriguez: CNJ columnist

Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare, according to actor Ed Asner.

As the parent of a teenager, I couldn’t agree more. Now here’s my take on raising children:

Imagine yourself as a child, coming back to haunt you as an adult — it’s a mix of what you lacked and longed for as a child and what you aspired for and dared to dream.

I’m not sure if parenting authority Dr. Phil McGraw would agree with this description but I agree with his take. During Christmas break I read Dr. Phil’s best-seller “Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family.”
Since then, I’ve been recommending it to family and friends.
I’ve read several books on parenting and even interviewed syndicated columnist and parenting expert John Rosemond when I worked for the Hobbs Daily News-Sun. But nothing I’ve read has been as comprehensive and to-the-point as Dr. Phil’s book.

I also recommend “Why You Crying?” by comedian George Lopez for adults in need of healing. Lopez’s book, also a New York Times best-seller, is not only entertaining, but deep-impacting and therapeutic.

But back to Dr. Phil. His book covers everything from infanthood to adulthood.

In “Family First” Dr. Phil says, “I don’t want you to die for your children, but to live for them.” That really grabbed me. Of course he emphasizes living for God first. This really made me think, “How many of us parents have said these very words?”

Now I’m no Claire Huxtable of moms. Me and my daughter, Laura, have had our ups and downs, but I definitely don’t want to die for my child.

If you don’t have time to read Dr. Phil, which, by the way, I checked out from the Portales Public Library, I’ll share some key points.

I feel this book is a must-read for parents.

The best part of the book is that it’s designed for all families, regardless of what stage or situation you’re in.

Creating the kind of phenomenal family Dr. Phil talks about is not a fantasy, but it requires work. Most of all, it requires complete honesty, with yourself, your past, who you’ve become, and most importantly, with your family.

Creating a phenomenal family also means setting priorities and looking forward, not back. It means putting your family on “project status” and “powering up your children.” This doesn’t mean putting your kids in charge.

Here are the highlights:
n Your family powerfully determines what you’ve become and how you think about yourself, and so it will be with your own children.

n Socialization is one of the key, most important jobs a family has. When the family fails to provide the healthy nurturing that children need, the impact on their lives can be destabilizing and can cheat them out of the chance to be the best person they can be.

n Children who are not properly socialized have problems in the world. They don’t respect authority, hierarchy or the boundaries of their parents. They have poor impulse control and they can be selfish and demanding with little regard for how their behavior hurts the family.

n Since you cannot eliminate the bad influences, you must create deep, meaningful and consistently positive and well-grounded values and beliefs to counterbalance the negative.

n Children are messages we deliver to a future we may never see.

n If you want different, you have to chose different!

n You can have a phenomenal family if you just resolve to do it and know where to put your focus.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: