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This week we take a look at Asset #20, Time at Home. According to the Search Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they go out ‘with nothing special to do’ two or fewer nights per week.”
Now I’m glad that little quote comes directly from the Search Institute because I swear I heard audible gasps coming from homes throughout the community on that one. I think I’d like to rephrase this one to ask, do your children like to be at home?
Now that question is not necessarily directed at parents who have students home from college for the summer. You may just happen to feel like you’re running a bed and breakfast. You know they come in at night, you may catch sight of them at some point during the day, dinner is optional and the bed looks messed.
I know you love the questions, so here goes. Ask your kids what they like most about their home. I should say be prepared because the answer probably won’t be your cooking. It shouldn’t be posed after you’ve asked them to clean their room. It also may depend on the time of day.
So what answers did I get? My answers come from people whose ages range from 8 to 40. On a hot day of the week, during the summer, they included; “window air conditioning, computer games and a comfortable bed.” Even better, all four answers included what I view as the winner, “the dogs.”
This unconditional, furry love comes in the form of a pint sized Fuzzball and a sleek, four-legged version of Batman. The dogs are happy to see the kids when they wake up, when they call their name, when an impromptu wrestling match takes place, when someone has extra food or a ball, it really doesn’t matter.
So while an X box may make the list, it is the free pound puppy that really makes the house a home. Although, I don’t want to squash how a really good bed just might change your life, thanks CB Fox.
We as parents need to remember to build that Asset, too. What makes you feel best about being home? If you never want to be there, think about why. Then go about making a few little changes to start. If I’m lucky enough that you’re reading this column and you have a substance abuse or anger problem, please try to summon up the courage to get help. Maybe the reason nobody wants to be at home is you.
If you have a college student at home, see what they like best about it, or have a friend ask them what they miss most when they’re away. I almost broke into tears one day when I saw a young man home for his first holiday. I said, “Your mom sure misses you when you’re away.” His response was, “I sure miss her, too.” Yes, I thought I’d crumble on the spot and yes, when he went back, I told her what he said.
We should all get a chance to know those things before we die. You hope to know the words you say or the deeds you do make a difference, but sometimes you never know. Don’t let that stop you though.
Finally the good old fashioned dinner table is a must, even if it is just once a week. It allows everyone to touch base and play catch up after a long week or before we start a new one.
Even though it makes my kids crazy sometimes we generally have a few stand by questions we throw around and make everyone answer. That is also something they do in the summer, but if you need to know what is going on in everybody’s life, it is a pretty cheap solution.
If the act is like pulling teeth, let that night be a buffet. Try making the favorite food of everyone at the table or include dessert if that isn’t regular fare. Now I know people who make sure they eat a different colored vegetable at every sitting or make sure they consume something from each of the food groups, but perhaps this is the one food free night. Remember the goal here is communication and not eating off the food pyramid. If it is one day a month, it probably won’t kill anyone.
Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets In Action Coordinator for Los Alamos. Learn more bout the 40 Developmental Assets at www.AssetsInAction.info.
This program is sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and AM 1490, KRSN.