By Robert J. Klitzman

Guest columnist

One of the things that I have been doing with my newly acquired extra time is to watch and listen to various news casts. It is somewhat amazing how much time is devoted to activities associated with drug use and deadly violence. Because of my background in education and my years spent with our children and young adults, I pay particular attention when these groups are highlighted.

It often appears that our young people do not even know what they are getting into or that the “bad guys” are targeting and exploiting them because of their immaturity and vulnerability. They are promised good times, recognition, and in some cases wealth with no down side if they would only use and/or sell drugs or that it is OK to do mental or physical harm to another (violence).

Our youth are subjected to a lot of peer pressure as well as receiving a steady diet of controversial messages delivered by so called rock stars, movies, video games, Internet, and so forth. Many advertisements and commercials promote the fact that they must do certain activities to really be a “dude.” Now to make killer drug use even more appealing there are actual instructions on how to mix drugs with candy to make them taste nice and sweet.

As it should be, the primary ones to counter these issues are the parents and other key adults who have influence with children. This tough job of parenting continues to get even tougher especially if these issues aren’t addressed until the children are in school. There are so many pitfalls, hazards and unbelievably tough challenges to navigate and take care of, but that is exactly what must be done. I don’t believe there exists a fool-proof “magic formula” or a black-and-white scientific approach to raising children. Being a loving, guiding parent from the very beginning has to be a big part of it. Raising children with a spiritual base also must be at the top of any approach. There is no question “time on task” (family time) within the family goes a long way to fighting off anti-social behavior. Remember children who share common values and behaviors usually gravitate toward each other. Be mindful of the people your children are associating with.

Parenting has always been difficult and that very tough job keeps getting tougher. Taking charge of children is easy to pontificate about, but it can be a stressful and frustrating proposition. I promise you it is not only worth the effort in the long run, but essential — because in fact — “Kids Are Our Future!”

P.S. Something to ponder: (1) What does it mean when National Football League players exhibit bad behavior in a post game TV interview and then skyrocket in popularity and commercial endorsements? (2) Why does Justin Bieber gain more national notoriety and popularity after exhibiting bad behavior? (3) How often does good behavior receive the same publicity? (4) What can we learn from the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman?

Robert J. Klitzman, Ed.D., is a former superintendent of Eastern Pulaski Community Schools. He can be reached through the newspaper at

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