Learning life’s lessons

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

The months of December and January find us in the positive identity category of the assets framework.
The category includes personal power, self esteem, sense of purpose and positive view of personal future.
When I review the category, an old saying comes to mind, “pot calling kettle, pot calling kettle.”
It takes a lot of work to build this asset in youth, if you don’t feel like you own it yourself. It is never too late to build your own assets, so look into resources at Mesa Public Library, attend a class at UNM-LA or talk to a counselor about an issue.
The first asset in the category, number 37, is personal power. Do the youth that you live with, work with, or see on a regular basis feel like they have control over what happens to them?
There are certain things that happen that we have no control over, but especially in the middle years, youth need choices to see that they have some control over what happens to them.
Occasionally, kids will make a bad choice and it is our role as adults to help them learn from the situation, accept the responsibility, suffer the consequence and move on.
If you don’t learn from a bad situation, if there is no responsibility for you as a parent or for the child, you just might set yourself  — and them — up for a world of hurt in the future.
Do you provide low-key opportunities for your children to make a decision and then enjoy the fruits of their labor or suffer the results of poor decision-making?
When kids are young, adults have control over almost everything. As a parent, it is hard to draw the line to teach them the skills that they need to be successful, not only as students, but also, the added value of a life skill.
I’m thinking about the student that continually misses the bus or forgets their homework. If we save them every time, there’s no lesson, no responsibility and no consequence.
Many years ago at church, I begged the committee that gets volunteers to make coffee, to let one Sunday slide when if no one had volunteered, there would be no coffee. It always seemed that if no one volunteered, someone from the committee or the choir would always takes care of it. I believed that behavior created a vicious cycle and made people believe that magically, the coffee would arrive.
The idea can relate to anything we want it to, for example, having clean clothes if they don’t make it to the laundry basket or having no toilet paper if someone doesn’t replace the roll.
The little life lessons, like pieces of a puzzle, can complete the big picture over time. Our effect as adults can help youth to build their personal power on any given day that will result in a lifetime of knowledge.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets Coordinator for Los Alamos. The Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce sponsor Assets In Action.