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Johanna Hicks Column

Agri-Life Extension
Johanna Hicks

I have often said that strong marriages make strong families and strong communities. We must remember that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Unfortunately, Americans have lost the idea of emphasizing solid relationships along the way. The violence, confusion, misbehaviors, and lack of respect have caused significant problems in schools and communities. Teachers are exhausted at the end because of their day because many students are disrespectful and belligerent. It stretches law enforcement officials to the breaking point, and families are crumbling.

There is not an easy solution, but a stepping-stone to helping improve the chaos is to start with the home. Parents should teach their children right from wrong, respect for authority, and responsibility, all while setting a good example. Being a parent is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences ever. There will be many joys and frustrations because children don’t come with an instruction manual. We all make mistakes when it comes to parenting, but learning from those mistakes is crucial.

Established early in life is the foundation for children’s successful development. From birth, children interact with others in various contexts that shape who they are as individuals. Parents, caregivers, teachers, peers, extended family, community, media, heredity, and environment are the things that influence a child’s growth and development. However, parents serve as the primary influence in their lives. Take them to church, play with them, teach them about good character, and love them.

Sports and after-school activities are back in full swing for teens, and this is a busy time of year! One of the best ways to communicate with your teen is through food. It can be stressful for families to figure out how to plan, prepare, and eat meals together, but family time is so important. One particular manufacturer of dinner napkins had a brilliant idea. Printed on each napkin is a discussion starter for mealtime. These include: “What was your favorite thing about today?” “If you could make a difference for someone, what would you do?” etc. Conversations with your children and teens will better understand their feelings, fears, and needs.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has put together some suggestions to make preparing and eating family meals easier:

  1. Spend some time on the weekend planning out meals for the week. Use quick, simple recipes that won’t take up valuable family time.
  2. Schedules don’t align for dinner? Try having breakfast together instead. Enjoy your morning coffee with the kids as they eat breakfast instead of drinking it at work.
  3. When you can be home together, turn off the TV, move away from devices, and spend time focused on conversations.

Keep in mind what works for some families might not work for others. Whether it is leftovers eaten together on the couch or a formal, cooked meal, it all counts! The research shows that preparing and eating meals together can improve family connections and communications and create lasting memories. So a little extra planning may be worth a lot in the long run!

49th Annual Christmas Joys

It is a popular event! Scheduled for Monday, November 7, the program will feature presentations on gift-giving, decorating, crafts, recipes, and more for the holidays. As of this writing, the 1:30 session is FULL, but several seats remain for the 5:30 pm session. If you are interested in attending, please call the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443. We must have a name and phone number for each seat reserved. The cost is $5, payable at the door. Children under ten are free. Those attending will receive a swag bag and a booklet of all the recipes and instructions for things demonstrated.

Closing Thought

Having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world – Andy Rooney


Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Family & Community Health Agent

Hopkins County

PO Box 518

1200-B W. Houston

Sulphur Springs, TX 75483