Jackie Gingrich Cushman

It's late summer, almost Labor Day, and for those with school-age children, it is time to get back to school, back to activities and back to routine. After 11 weeks of vacation, routine sounds more welcoming and stable than oppressive and stifling, as it did at the end of this past spring.

My oldest child began middle school this fall. There is much more freedom in middle school than in elementary school. No two schedules are the same. Instead of groups changing classes en masse, everyone goes their own way.

There are student lockers -- with locks -- and after-school snacks can be bought at the snack bar. With these additional freedoms come more responsibility, more homework and the chance for students to begin testing their wings.

Marybeth Hicks' new book, "Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid" (Regency, 2011), has been released at a perfect time, just when all the students are back in school and parents are re-evaluating their roles and their children's responsibilities.

We have heard that we are not supposed to be friends, but parents -- but what does that mean? Should we rely on rules and discipline, understanding and awareness, or a mixture? Adolescents need structure -- but how much is just enough but not too tight? What is the right balance and harmony for parents and parenting?

What influences our children? How can we understand the environment that they deal with on a daily basis?

The first section of the book focuses on shining light onto and heightening awareness about what is happening today to imbue our children with "attitudes of dependence and entitlement." Hicks writes, "The ultimate manifestation of the socialist worldview is our young people's desire for security over liberty."

Hicks quotes facts, figures and speeches to provide real data regarding where we are and what is happening to our nation's children.

For example, one might think that economic education would be important to citizens of a nation that is deeply in debt and destined to get further in the hole. Hick provides data regarding the next generations' understanding of our national economy.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.