THIS BOOK IS ABOUT how important good relationships are to a successful life. In it I state that, if we are not sick, poverty stricken, or suffering the ravages of old age, the major human problems we struggle with—violence, crime, child abuse, spousal abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, the proliferation of premature and unloving sex and emotional distress—are caused by unsatisfying relationships. This whole book is both an explanation of why this happens and what to do to get along better with one another.
I focus on four major relationships, all of which are in obvious need of improvement. These are husband-wife, parent-child, teacher-student, and manager-worker. I make the claim that if we do not improve these relationships, we will have little success in reducing any of the problems in the previous paragraph.
For me to make such a broad claim may be considered presumptuous but, just before this book went to press, I was pleased to find recent research that strongly supports my thesis that adolescents, especially, need good parent-child and teacher-student relationships if they are to avoid self-destructive behaviors.
The September 10, 1997, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)includes an article entitled “Protecting Adolescents from Harm,” which describes the first findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. The most significant finding was: “Parent-family connectedness and perceived school connectedness were protective of every health risk behavior measure except history of pregnancy.”
The research does not as yet go into how to improve these two important relationships, but it does show clearly that this is the direction in which to go—and that is the subject of this book. I would suggest that the researchers also focus on how husbands and wives can achieve more marital satisfaction, which I think is a vital factor in achieving child-parent connectedness. Years ago, a priest I knew in Chicago, by the name of Father John, said something I have never forgotten: “The best thing parents can do for their children is love each other.”
As you read this book you will note that I do not use the word “connectedness.” Although I use “satisfying relationships,” I can see no difference in the terms. I encourage you to read the JAMAarticle if you want to see for yourself how strongly it supports what I say in this book.