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I am a parent of three children and acutely aware of the many temptations and dangers facing our kids today - many more than I faced as a child.
I did not have to deal with cyber bullying, the temptations on the internet or the media bombardment of drugs, alcohol, violence and early sexual behavior.
Our kids today face so many more risks than we did.
So, what is a parent to do?
We know that most of us usually follow the parenting model we’re most familiar with - our own parents behavior.
We might seek information and guidance by attending workshops, reading books or seeking advice from other parents. Personally, I model my parents, I ask advice from other parents, I pray, I attend as many parenting skills workshops as possible and read as many books on parenting as I find time for.
I feel fortunate that some of these actions have produced important lessons that guide me. From my parents, I learned to accept my children’s dreams and realized the importance of helping them to attain those.
I am grateful to my parents for helping me embrace my dreams and follow them.
From a workshop speaker, I learned a valuable lesson regarding children’s goals.
The speaker asked, “What is your highest goal for your child?”
I gave this a great deal of thought. But it wasn’t the thought, but the verbalization - saying it out loud - that helped me recognize how I can parent in such a way to help my children reach goals.
I heard myself say, “I choose as my highest goal for my children that they grow into a relationship with God.”
Saying it out loud helped me become more focused on the concrete steps I can take to help them get there.
It has been remarkable parenting with a clear vision for my children. Your goal might be that your children grow into being loving, kind and compassionate adults or it might be that they are able to obtain a job that will support themselves and their family.
Whatever your goal is for your children, it is helpful to have that clear vision and to acknowledge it - out loud.
Even with these two powerful lessons, I found myself wanting something more to help me keep my children safe from the many dangers present in their lives.
Recently, I found a very useful parenting tool called “Developmental Assets.”
After much study, the Search Institute discovered that there are 40 developmental assets that young people can hold that become, in essence, protective factors.
In simple terms, these assets reduce the chances that children will use drugs, drink alcohol, be involved in violent activities or have early sexual encounters.
The more “Developmental Assets” a child has in place, the less chance of the child’s involvement in risky and dangerous behaviors.
You can find more information about Developmental Assets on the Search Institute website at www.search-institute.org/assets, or you can contact the Seven Counties Services Regional Prevention Center at 502-589-8600 or www.sevencounties.org/prevention or by contacting Bullitt County Partners In Prevention at 955-5355 or www.PartnersInPrevention.com.
If you suspect or know your teen is using alcohol or other drugs, you can contact the Early Intervention Program (EIP), an assessment and educational program for youth 13-17 years of age, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Vicki Serrano, Prevention Specialist, at 502-439-9699.