I’m not a mom yet, but I have been taking note of the smart parenting of my friends and peers. In 2004, when former governor Mark Warner was telling me in his commencement address at Mary Washington College to “Listen to your Mother” it showed that a mother’s impact is undeniable no matter what your politics.

The most recent National Vital Statistics Report (bureaucratically only reporting on births for 2006 so far) shows that more of us are becoming mothers across all races, ages, and ethnicities and we are the backbone of even larger families. To those like my friend Robert Stacy McCain who still fear greatly for the fertility of America: “We’re on an uptick again!”

As Philp Cohen of the Carolina Population Center notes the prevalence of unmarried births among all ages in this data set which does give reason for pause. Why? It’s going to take some time to understand this phenomenon a bit better. Those increases include births among teens, however, there is room for hope, the most comprehensive data we have on abortion (woefully, only up to 2005) shows a decline in the number of abortions per thousand women.

Thankfully, too, the right kind of parenting is actually gaining steam again. It isn’t about the hands-off approach of surrendering control to your kid and letting them wander the mall with their friends as we saw in the early 90s. It’s about identifying strengths and weaknesses and helping them to succeed without necessarily forcing them to fit a specific mold, but to create their own. There is a renewed respect for showing them the possibility of what they could be through your eyes while also arming them a smart, discerning perspective as they take encounter the world and interpret it often on their own.

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97 Mother’s Days after the term was trademarked, we know that being a mother is even more intensive than it used to be. It’s about communicating with your child and teaching them more about life in the US than they’ve ever been expected to know as they leave home.

One of many recommendations which can also be found in her recent book 30 Ways in 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family (Regnery) Rebecca Hagelin encourages you to write a letter to your teen that helps layout your vision for their lives and by doing so build a stronger relationship with them. The second time authoress, mother of three, former home school mom, and Senior Communications Fellow for The Heritage Foundation has collected the insights of conservative parents responding to her columns and incorporated them in an easy to digest fashion for a parent on the go. Chapters aren’t sagas; they’re a part of a list of challenges such as “Obtaining a Reliable Internet Filter,” “Create Family Time,” or “Understand How Marketers Target Your Kid” with practical recommendations in 10 pages or less.

Addressing the Conservative Women’s Network at The Heritage Foundation this Friday, Hagelin discussed the importance of being a parent in charge and not letting others drive a wedge in to the most important of relationships (citing her syndicated column from May 4). Her message: We have to take part in “deliberate parenting.” Even the childless were encouraged to conscientiously illuminate a child’s day through a smile or a compliment, “We’re all impacted by children and we all impact them.”

Hagelin went on to say, “The world would like to tell us that as conservatives we don’t like dirty pictures and we are a list of nos.” Hagelin emphasized that it was a mischaracterization, “You have to lay out the vision that you have for your child. Laying out a vision you have for your child’s life helps them understand the lists of dos and don’ts.”

After admitting in the introduction that she’s an imperfect parents with kids who have even gently informed her of mistakes along the way, she includes an excerpt from her daughter who helped her with the book and mentions the discussions she had with her sons after recruiting them into the editing process.

Kicking off her final chapter she reminds the reader, “kid’s don’t come from cookie cutters. And neither do families!” and encourages you to put together your own challenges and solutions and to discuss and share them with other parents.

I look forward to reading Hagelin’s book cover to cover. I get the feeling having heard her speak multiple times and read several sections, that her message might come from a conservative perspective, but many (if not all) of her lessons learned are as universal as parenting itself.

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