When we connect with our kids, we avoid a lot of problems. Parents who develop and maintain a good relationship with their children stave off youth's experimentation with alcohol, drugs, sex and instead promote good grades, respectful and responsible behavior, and increased self-esteem. It one key to successful parenting.

How do we connect? Time. Children spell love T-I-M-E! It's one of our most valuable comodities in the 21st Century. With so many time-saving devices, we have more leisure time than any other generation in the history of the world. So how do we spend our time? Benjamin Franklin said, "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of."

One of the most beneficial things we can do with our time is spend it with our children. Go on dates, luncheons, talk in the car. Make a meal together. Kids really open up when we are not pressured like when peeling pounds of potatoes at the kitchen sink or mixing cookie dough. Give them time and they will talk! Make some rules about communication like no television during dinner, no texting when you are with me or any other human being for that matter.

This concept was reinforced when my sixteen year old daughter shared with a large group of people including many of her peers something her Father shared with her while driving her to violin lessons a few weeks ago. Quoting her Dad, "developing a good, strong character is more important than accomplishing goals." Casual, informal encounters is the best time to connect and teach principles and values to our children.

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