It's captivating and informative to watch experts like the docs on the syndicated daytime talk show, The Doctors give fact-based advice about issues that matter. At times, it's even more engaging when they use personal examples from their own lives, showing how they apply what they have learned. That's why I wanted to ask several of the doctors from the show about the successful ways they are parenting their own kids.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton is an Ob-Gyn, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor, and author of Your Body Beautiful and The Body Scoop for Girls. She has a daughter, 15, and son, 16.
Dr. Jennifer Berman is a urologist specializing in female sexual medicine. She is the mom of a son, 14, and daughter, 11, as well as co-author of the New York Times best-seller For Women Only and Secrets of the Sexually Satisfied Woman.
Dr. Drew Ordon has been a surgeon in the areas of aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery and is the father of a son, 27, and a daughter, 26, both in medical school. He is the author of several books including Revealing the New You and Better in 7.
Dr. Jim Sears is a pediatrician who has a daughter, 16, and a son, 12. He has co-authored several books including Father's First Steps and best-seller The Baby Book.
What is the best advice about parenting you have received?
Ashton: It was from my mom: being a parent doesn't come with an instruction manual. Be honest, love your children unconditionally and expect to make mistakes.
Berman: Enjoy the time. It goes by quickly. I remember being in the moment of having a newborn and days seemed like years. Now in retrospect, it does go by quickly, but it has taken me 14 years to appreciate that.
Ordon: Let them find their own passion. Encourage as much as you can without being overbearing... You have to discipline your kids to a certain extent. They want guidance, but they don't want you to be overbearing either.
Sears: Be sure to have one-on-one time with each of your kids at least once a week. I try to take each of my kids out for a quick breakfast on the way to school. It gives us just a little needed one-on-one time that we get to chat together without the distractions that would happen if the whole family was there. Some weeks, breakfast just doesn't fit into the schedule, so a walk before dinner is good, too.
Dr. Ashton, What do you think is the most pressing issue affecting teenage girls? And teenage boys? How do you address these issues with your kids?
Ashton: I think preoccupation with body image is the most pressing issue affecting teenage girls today... For boys, I think it's peer pressure to experiment with drugs, drinking and sex.
For both boys and girls, the physical and the emotional/social aspects to these teenage behaviors are often uncoupled, which means they are experiencing a one-sided version of sexual behavior, or of drinking alcohol. They may focus on the physical, but ignore the psychological, emotional or social elements that go along with drinking, for example.
I ask my kids: 'After you did x, y, or z, how did that make you feel? What did you think about that?' I always tell them that the only opinion of them that matters is how they feel about themselves.
For teenage girls, I think the best way I've found of addressing this body image issue is having my daughter be involved in sports since the age of 4. She is a nationally-ranked ice hockey player and has a strong, athletic body that she is proud of.
Dr. Berman, what do you think about hook-up culture? What do you tell your kids?
I feel that intimacy without connection is not healthy, empty and risky, especially for women... I don't care who they are or what they say. There are women who participate in swinging -- those women and probably a handful of others are wired slightly differently and they respond to sex in a male kind of way, but that is definitely not the norm.
They [my kids] are going to make their own choices and it's going to be about who I am and how I've raised them and the type of relationships I have -- I'm divorced by the way and not in a relationship -- kids mirror the relationships that are familiar. All of the function and all of the dysfunction.
I think parents need to recognize the importance of modeling healthy relationships, appropriate levels of intimacy, respect and communication, because that's what kids are going to pursue.
Dr. Ordon, how has your relationship evolved with your children now that they are adults?
Ordon: I think what stands out is that we're able to travel and spend time together as a family, but now that they've gotten older it's more like hanging out with your friends... also their friends are comfortable with hanging out with me and my wife.
I let my hair down, I joked with them [my kids] a lot and joked about myself. Although what I do is very serious, they see the side of me that I'm not afraid to laugh at myself, and be silly and crazy at times. I think that had a positive influence on them so they feel comfortable being around me not only as a parent, but as a friend.
Dr. Sears, what do you tell your kids about bullying?
Sears: Each of my kids has had just a few minor instances of being bullied. These can be extra hurtful because the victim has usually done nothing wrong to warrant the mean treatment -- the bully just decided to be mean.
It was important to explain to my kids that the one with the problem was the bully and that we could actually feel sorry for that person because they are either jealous or angry inside.
Look for another blog with "The Doctors" on parenting coming soon.