GENERATION AFTER generation passes along the family's way of life — the weird and wonderful, the good and bad — to the next generation.

Mostly it is good, since we cling to family traditions that give us comfort and a sense of belonging. But we also cling to familiar things that we would be better off not keeping, such as fatherless homes, drug abuse, obesity, high school dropouts, child abuse, teen pregnancy and poverty, just to mention a few.

In other words, if you did not have a father around when you were young, chances are your own son probably will not have one either. If a mother gave birth at age 16, that baby might have a baby of her own during her teen years.

Soon after my wife and I were married and had hopes for children someday, we vowed to leave behind some negative issues from our own two families for the sake of our children. We learned how hard it is to change deep-seated behaviors. It takes someone in the family to stand up and say: "That's it! This isn't healthy. We're making changes." By eliminating one detrimental and perpetual behavior within the family, you will change the path for generations behind you.

Thanks to the parents and grandparents who sent in a tip this week.

Write a research paper about smoking: When I caught my daughter smoking, I told her that she was grounded until she wrote a 10-page research paper on the dangers of smoking. It was a real eye-opener for her. — J.A.C., Minneapolis

Cure for being afraid of the dark: My young son used to be afraid of the dark, which made bedtime a struggle. This issue was solved soon after I bought him a package of glow-in-the-dark stars. Instead of attaching the stars to the ceiling, I placed them inside a clear plastic box. He couldn't wait for me to turn off his light so he could play with the stars in bed. He would toss them in the air, look at them glow under his pajamas and manipulate them in creative ways each evening. He even enjoyed watching them glow after he returned them to the box. — Lucy R.L., Fremont