Healthy, Caring, and Responsible

Years ago as a young adult, I asked my mother a sincere and loving question…”How did you know what to do to be such a great mom?” She smiled at the compliment, and thought for a moment. I knew she had been an only child, loosing her dad when she was just 14, and her mother when she was 22. She smiled and said, “Well, I was blessed with the four of you. You and your brothers were for the most part very responsible, and I trusted you. You were like kites that I set in the breeze. I would let out the string a little at time, as you slowly drifted up. Once you were high up in the wind and the current had you, I let go…”

Amazing to think that parents prepare their children for life’s challenges, only to eventually “let them go.” Today there are so many more variables to consider in raising kids. As parents and educators we look holistically at our children. We support their academic and physical needs, and try to understand their social / emotional development. We strive to keep them safe in a social media maze that grabs and consumes so much of their energy. Families and communities suffer tremendous loss and grief from drugs and teen suicides.

In approaching these overwhelming concerns, it is helpful to hold several thoughts. We can remind ourselves that the world in which we adults grew up was vastly different from the world in which our children must maneuver. Grownups look out through years of experience, with values pretty well formulated. Our kids look out through a different lens, embarking on their fresh journeys with complicated challenges. Yet, with these challenges come remarkable advances and innovations. How do we help our kids decide, decipher and maneuver through their world, our world?

There are numerous online resources, books, Podcasts, and seminars that can help guide parents along the way. I’ve found that Search INSTITUTE offers a range of research to create school and home environments where all children can succeed. Search INSTITUTE has identified blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets — that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Please take a moment to look through the following list of assets or building blocks. They may be helpful in clarifying how best to support and guide your child.

Heidi Ehrenberg, School Counselor