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This week, we take a look at Asset #30, Responsibility and Asset #31, Risk Taking. According to the Search Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they take responsibility for their own actions (and) … believe it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol and drugs.”
Ahh, responsibility is a big one and an interesting one, too. I think the definition of responsibility for each family is probably very different.
I know some teenagers who are more responsible than some of the adults I know. I also know some teenagers who have probably never been responsible for anything in their lives.
Think about what responsibility means in your home. Is everyone responsible for something? If not, start them young and increase the amount of responsibilities as they grow older.
You might make an elementary age student responsible for feeding the dog. The parent should act as a backup so that the pet does eat. I’m pretty sure that our turtles would be long dead by now if I did not help with that task.
A middle school student can be responsible for more, although occasionally their response might just be equivalent to the elementary age student.
Responsibility seems to present itself most during those middle school years. If you play your cards right, you can utilize youth to get a little more done around the house when their need is for independence.
I’m not sure I can advise you on what a high school student can be responsible for, although I can tell you that they can be very responsible. I work with a large number of high school students and find them delightful.
They are able to carry out tasks that people twice their age have trouble with and do it while having fun and with a sense of humor.
The risk-taking asset has a large range of possibilities, too. We’ll talk about alcohol and drugs later, but after all, taking risks isn’t necessarily always bad. Think for example about the small child that jumps from the edge of the pool into the waiting arms of a parent who they assume will come to their aide. That example demonstrates great risk taking, but how many opportunities do youth have to take risks that challenge them in a good way?
There may be many, but we don’t often hear about the good ones. Athletics is one way to challenge a student. We have found that wrestling is an excellent way for middle and high school boys and girls to challenge themselves. The competition comes in the form of not just team success or failure, but individual success and failure, too.
Wrestling requires that a student put their all on the line and there’s no one to blame for a loss and only one person to congratulate on a win. As a woman, it is very exciting to see young women out on the mat. The truth is, as long as they aren’t wrestling someone from the home team, you find other moms cheering them on to success.
When it comes to drugs and alcohol there are lots of things to consider. Often, youth aren’t drinking alcohol or having sex as a right of passage. They do it because they’re missing something. If you think something is going on, try to have a productive discussion or if you know in your heart that you can’t, ask someone you know they respect to do it for you. You aren’t any less of a person because you don’t feel up to the task, but the fact that it takes place needs to supersede your feelings, because a lot is at stake.
Again, I like to reflect back on the presentation last spring of Dr. Baird. Baird explained the teenage brain and how sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, usually just when you hope it will most.
On Dec. 10, Family Strengths Network will show it again and parents will have the opportunity to learn a lot about the makeup and lack there of for our youth. Registration is free.
The topics are “What we’re you thinking?” and “The Affects of Substance Abuse on the brain.” We might not have all the answers, but Dr. Baird provides a hilarious insight with a guided tour of the teenage brain.
Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets In Action Coordinator. The program is sponsored by the Los Alamos Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. She can also be heard on Mondays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on 1490, KRSN or www.krsnam1490.com.