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Examiner
  • Dr. Murray Feingold: Are you modeling good behavior?

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  • Being a parent isn’t always easy. When raising children, Mom and Dad play many different roles.
    Sometimes they play the role of an army sergeant barking out orders to their little ones.
    Or, are they teachers instructing their children how to sing the alphabet song or engaging in discussions concerning moral values?
    One moment they are disciplinarians, and the next moment they are consoling and hugging Junior after he or she has faced some type of adversity.
    Parenting adolescents reaches yet another level. At that time there are many new concerns, some of them the parents have never faced.
    They include worrying about their choice of friends, drugs and behavioral and sexual issues, just to name a few.
    Another parental concern during their children’s late teenage years is when they start driving a car. As soon as the engine starts and their child drives away from the house, parents start to worry.
    Their heart rate increases when the telephone rings or their cellphone starts buzzing, fearful their pride and joy has been involved in some type of accident.
    Parents don’t start to relax until the garage door closes and the youngster is safely home.
    Parents become anxious when their adolescent is driving and is participating in distracting activities. For example, while driving, many can’t seem to keep their busy thumbs from texting their best friend, whom they just spoke to three minutes before.
    Parents continually chide their youngsters about the dangers of engaging in distracting activities while driving. However, a recent study showed that parents are guilty of doing the same thing.
    In this study, parents were asked how many distracting activities, such as talking on cellphones, surfing their iPhone, using the navigation system, or reaching for an object, including their child in the back seat.
    Results were disturbing. Almost 90 percent of the parents admitted taking part in at least one distracting activity while driving with their child in the car during the prior month.
    Talking on the cellphone was the most common distracting activity.
    Parents were also asked if they were involved in any motor vehicle accident during this time period. Those engaged in distracting behaviors had a higher incidence of such accidents.
    Besides providing advice on many subjects and playing many roles while raising their children, parents must also be good role models.
    That means, parents should practice what they preach including avoiding distractions while driving that can potentially harm not only themselves, but also their children.
    Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.
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