Parents can take an active role to promote mental health and prevent delinquent behaviours in their children. How?

Three researchers were awarded the Stockholm prize in criminology for showing how parents could prevent a child from becoming delinquent. One of them is Professor Travis Hirschi from University of Arizona.

Here is the news article. Click here for the news article

Let me focus on the following:

How can parents take an active role in preventing delinquent behaviours in their children?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, delinquency means behaviour, especially of a young person, that is illegal or not acceptable to most people. For example, a young person who commits crime.

We can argue that the burden of delinquency prevention rest on multiples factors such as parents, school environment, teachers and government agencies.  However, ultimately , we as parents have the most control over the behaviours of our children.  We need to put our hearts and will to set clear priorities on raising confident and mature kids. We need to put our family first above everything else.

A Survey from Columbia University showed that children from families who had dinner together for five to seven times per week were significantly less likely to experiment with illegal drugs or substances.

By simply taking an active interest in the lives of our children such as spending time to listen, understand and talk to them, we are actually filling up the “emotional tank” of our kids and help to prevent delinquency.

A sociology professor at the University of Arizona, Travis Hirschi  studied 4,077 teenagers in a crime-ridden suburb of San Francisco, USA. He collected police records, self-reported criminal activities and the teens’ own attitudes. His large research showed the paramount importance of the child’s attachment to parents in shaping a decent attitude.

Even with criminal parents, Hirschi found that a strong attachment to one or both parents helped prevent delinquency.

Hence, if we want to raise our children to become responsible citizens with good mental and emotional well being, we must and we need to spend time to nurture our relationships/attachments with our children. There is no short cut or or two ways about it!


JoshMcdowell quote


How to create a strong family?

For mental health or family health, it may not be easy to differentiate what is normal (healthy) vs abnormal (unhealthy).

By the time we realized that something is wrong, it may be too late. It is like the analogy of a frog in a boiling water.

Frog in boiling water

However, if we acknowledge the problem and switch gear to damage control mode, there is always hope.  It would be a much greater problem when we do not realize or are not aware that there is a problem.  We may be in the state of denial.

Professor John D. DeFrain and Professor Nick Stinnett have outlined 6 basic characteristics of healthy family functioning in the American Family Strengths Inventory.

  • Enjoyable time together (fun)

  • Appreciation and affection (love) for each other

  • Communicating effectively with each other

  • Valuing (Respecting) each other and demonstrating commitment

  • Managing stress and crisis effectively (Resilience)

  • Spiritual well being

I would summarize it as having love, respect, fun and resilience as a family. There must be openness and free flow communication among each other. Having common value system or spiritual belief is certainly an additional strength.

And I certainly find it help to conduct periodical review of these factors. Enjoy!

Click here for American Family Strengths Inventory or PDF

Stress : a Friend or an Enemy ?

How to love ?

Even though Mother’s day was more than a week ago, i hope to share this meaningful illustration.


To all fathers and husbands,  may i quote John Wooden who said ” the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”.

And how do we love our spouse?

Love is patient-2

Source : 1 Corinthians 13


Resolving conflicts in a relationship

After married for many years, both myself and my wife attended a marriage course in 2010 called the Alpha Marriage. We just wanted to learn more and enriched our marriage.

I still remember this analogy of a clogged drain which was used to describe unresolved conflicts and issues in a marriage.

If we do not regularly clean the drain in our home, the accumulated rubbish and debris will eventually builds up, layer by layer and finally clogs the drain.


clogged drain
Until one day, when there is a heavy downpour, the house will be flooded!


Similarly, any unresolved issues, conflicts or hurts in relationship will stay in our memory bank. As Karol K. Truman puts it in her book ” Feelings buried alive never die”. Hence all the accumulated unresolved issues will eventually bottle up. All it takes is just one more disagreement which will then lead to an explosive argument!

So folks, here is the take home message.

Learn to lower our pride and ego. Practice the art of communication and resolving our differences with love and respect. If possible, let us seek out a win-win situation. If we could not agree, then we will need to agree to disagree. Sometimes, we may need to consult an expert or a more experienced person for solutions.

The final decision should be based on love, respect, wisdom, acting in the best interest of the family and a mutual attitude of “give and take”.



how to argue quote

Courtesy of


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