The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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November 2, 2001 Issue
Special Section:
Family Life Month

What do your kids
really want from you?

Parents, older siblings and grandparents
serve as examples to teens

By Tom Rinkoski

This year, I have had the blessing to be working with 9th, 10th and 11th graders from all around our Diocese. I want to thank you for the opportunity. In one of our six meetings in the Relationship Education Program, I ask them what their expectations are of their family and they told me some fantastic things. I want to share it with you.

The specific question I asked them was what their expectations were of parents and other family members so that they might have healthy successful home lives. These are some of the things they told me. These are not in a priority order.

• An environment where I can relax

• Love

• Support

• A feeling of security

• Good conversation

• Respect

• Guidance

• Honesty

• Trust

• Acceptance

• Care

• Understanding

• Push me to be my best

• Being there for me

• Compassion

• Food and Shelter

• Fun times

• Listening

No where on any of these lists did 'things' beyond food and shelter and clothes appear. If you are a parent or a grandparent, I suggest using this list as an examination of conscious. Are you providing these things on a regular basis to your children? Specifically, how do you provide it? When do you provide it? How often?

I also asked them to compile a list of similar expectations for their school and their friends. I have limited space, so I won't add these comments at this time.

But I do want to offer you some other comments they wrote. I want you to know I asked these same kids to name some of their personal heroes and heroines. They wrote down the names of persons whom they felt seized the best of what life has to offer and stand out as examples of healthy, holy and successful living. I want you to know that parents, older siblings and grandparents appeared on this list much more than sports figures. Right after parents there was a substantial amount of teens who cited their teachers as personal heroes and heroines, people who inspire them to reach just a little further. Here are some of the words they used to describe their parents, brothers and sisters and grandparents:

"My parents are always there and not pressuring me to be something I am not."

"My brother is a person who seized opportunity. He went to UW Madison on a track scholarship and he tried out for the basketball team and made it. He is now a UW Badger track and B ball athlete!"

"My dad has always been there for me."

"My grandma and grandpa are both my heroes because they were able to continue to have the closest relationships with their family that I have ever seen."

"My mom because she is always doing good things for people. She tries hard at everything she does. She also pushes me to do good things for myself and others."

"My mom has always kept all of my options open and never told me that I couldn't do something."

"My dad makes the most of the time we have together."

"My Uncle Andy because he enjoys life, gives great advice and works hard."

"My mom because I can talk to her about anything, and she listens and understands how I feel."

"I admire my parents because they are always by my side when I have a problem. They're there for me to talk to and can relate to my problems."

Life gets tough, and I know sometimes it can seem that as a parent you never get any (or enough) appreciation for your job, but I want you to know they do appreciate it. I just wanted to give you a taste of it in their words.

(Rinkoski is the Green Bay Diocese's Family Life Director)

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