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This week, we look at Asset number 32, Planning and Decision Making. According to the Search-Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they know how to plan ahead and make choices.”
For those of you who know me well, I’ll take a short pause to allow time for you to guffaw. I do get an awful lot done, but I’ll tell you, that it is by the grace of God that things get accomplished and it has very little to do with me.
I’m one of those people who seems to get it all done, but that may depend on if it is due by the end of the work day or by 11:59 p.m. on that day. I kid you not but I have written a grant due by 11:59 p.m. on a certain day. The fact was at the time I had a dial up connection or slow speed, so whether it was received on time could have been iffy. Even as an adult, I’m still working on this part of Asset 32.
You don’t have to have an asset to try and instill it in youth, but it sure helps. One way to help the young people in your life is by helping them lay out a plan. If a large assignment is due several weeks away, sit down with the student and help them see how it can be accomplished in smaller steps.
The making decisions portion of this asset is an easier area to illustrate. The ability to make decisions really can start very young. We were never the parents who would allow our children to wear the Superman cape to school everyday for a month, slipping it away while they slept so it could be washed. We would allow kids to pick one of two outfits that they wanted to wear or which stuffed animal could go on the trip.
You can help your child make these good decisions when they’re young and just don’t know any better. If there’s a spirit day at school and you’re unsure about what your child is telling you, call a friend or staff member to inquire. If it is crazy hair or hat day, that probably doesn’t mean they can wear underwear on their head. Remember, there’s some poor staff member who has to get through seven hours of lessons.
A fun event that can be done together or alone when they get older is allowing them to plan a meal for the family. This is used in Cub Scouting as a requirement and can tend to be a real eye opener. Let them help select a menu, make the grocery list and help with the shopping. If they try and make short cuts in the process, allow them to experience the results or perhaps consequences of their actions.
This doesn’t mean that they’ll begin to worship your culinary expertise, but they’ll at least learn about the process.
Let’s face it, up until a certain age, that automatic teller seems to be a magic machine that spits out money. When kids learn to earn money and then save it, they see they only get out what they put in. Then again, I guess even some adults don’t learn the lesson and that is partially the result of our current economy.
When they work for the iPod or Game Boy, they just might treat it a little better because of the sweat equity. Our kids are allowed to borrow a reasonable amount of money to purchase something like a toy. Then, they have to pay off that debt before they can borrow again. If two months pass and they haven’t made an attempt to pay it off, by applying their chore money or trying to earn extra money, they have a small penalty added to the debt.
The added penalty portion hasn’t seemed to affect them, but the inability to borrow a second time, hits the nail on the head. They know if an important trip, say to Albuquerque and perhaps the mall is in the near future, they need to be debt free, just in case a purchase looms.
I’m not saying everything we’re doing works or makes the point we intend, but if nothing else, they are spending their own money and not ours. The only point for them is that some friends have to do very little and have a lot more stuff. In any case, my hope is that when they get to college, their ability to make good decisions and plan for the future won’t put us in the poor house.
Bernadette Lauritzen is the Coordinator of the Assets In Action program and comments are welcome at 661-4846 or at AssetsInAction@att.net. This community approach is sponsored by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. You can learn more at www.AssetsInAction.info or Monday mornings on AM 1490, KRSN.