“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Children naturally learn to trust in their own goodness, worth and strength when they receive healthy parenting and/or mentoring.”
Sometimes I think: “If we were good parents, I wouldn’t have a job.” So much of our capabilities in life and in our relationships is either fostered or damaged by our parents and their behaviors when we are learning and growing.
Even in the first year of life our emotional illiteracy is fostered by a fear of others rather than the healthy feeling of being bonded and safe with people and the world.
PARENTING IS FOR ADULTS: Through the loving and discerning guidance of authoritative parenting and mentoring, children learn they are safe, taught and treasured. The parent takes the role of the adult…the mature and responsible person who has the power and wisdom to keep a home environment and family relationships happy and healthy.
MANAGER TO MENTOR: When our children move into adolescence at around 13, our role as the caring adults around them moves gradually from being the “Manager” in their lives to being the “Mentor.” As our brains develop, we naturally grow our abilities in all of the areas of human potential.
ROOTS OF SUCCESS: However, if we aren’t provided with the materials, resources and opportunities to grow, we can be stunted, wounded, ignorant and/or damaged in our abilities to form an identity, relationships and a career. Here is a model I created so we can quickly touch base with the roots of success and the roots of disempowerment.
Parents – Take Note!
The Family Virtues Guide
My FAVORITE: parenting resource for growing children with confidence and character is: http://www.virtuesproject.com The Family Virtues Guide covers 52 virtues in a quick format ready for any family to study and teach weekly.
FOUR STYLES OF PARENTING: And, the first 70 pages provide the most concentrated and caring information on the styles of parenting with descriptions of exactly how to do it yourself. There are four general parenting styles:
2. Permissive Indulgent
3. Permissive Indifferent
AUTHORITATIVE: The only parenting style which succeeds in helping children develop all of their abilities is the fourth: the Authoritative Parent.
The Four Roles of Parenting for the Authoritative Parent:
1. The Authority
2. The Educator
3. The Counselor
4. The Spiritual Guide
Keeping Our Teens on Track
A Call to Action
The Six Keeping Our Teens On Track Workshops:
1. VALUES: Values, Philosophy, Perspective, Goals and Strategies
2. IDENTITY: Identity, Communication, Attitude and Relationships
3. ABILITIES: Talents, Passions, Dreams, Adventure and Mission
4. ACHIEVEMENT: Resiliency, Self-Regulation, Persistence and Success
5. FAMILY: Family Communication, Activities, Travels and Belonging
6. EMPOWERMENT: Lifestyle, Friends, Purpose, Service and Spirituality
These workshops are offered in three formats: 1. adults, 2. teens, 3. parents and teens.
ADDITIONAL WORKSHOPS: Heather is a Facilitator trained by Practical Parent Education which is recognized by the Harvard Family Research Project, to present over 50 topics for parents, teachers and those interested in helping kids and teens. Email or call to request the full list of workshops.
See www.practicalparent.org Practical Parent Education provides services to parent educators giving them the curriculum, training and support they need to establish successful, effective parenting programs.
Photo: Heather with Carol Lane, Practical Parent Education National Program Coordinator.
As Many of Us Have Concluded, American Adults Need to Know and Live Methods that Ensure Adolescents Succeed in their Developmental Tasks to Prevent: * Academic problems * Aggression, violence, defiance, combativeness, harassment * Youth gang involvement, unhealthy friendships * Alcohol, tobacco, prescription narcotics and other drug use * Delinquency, truancy * Problems in family functioning * Isolation in Computers, Gaming and Virtual Reality * Early sexual activity, exploitation, romantic enmeshment, pregnancy * Obesity and eating disorders.
Let’s Focus on What We Need to Do About It!
We Can Logically Avoid the Problems By Developing Natural Abilities in Our Children
NOW WE KNOW HOW:
The community of professionals which works with families, parents, children and educators has completed fine research and development showing us what is missing and how to prevent the problems we have with our children and teens. I have a passion for delivering the knowledge and resources which are now readily available. Here are some of the nuggets from the research I have done with help from my assistant, Cheanay Pritchett, BSc.
WHAT EMPOWERS YOUTH?
First, what are the important elements of empowering our youth into growing their identity and abilities to succeed as adults? How do we achieve this fostering of our teenagers? Here are some of the best answers:
The Ten Tasks of Adolescence
1. Adjust to sexually maturing bodies and feelings
2. Develop and apply abstract thinking skills
3. Develop and apply a more complex level of perspective taking
4. Develop and apply new coping skills in areas such as decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution
5. Identify meaningful moral standards, values, and belief systems
6. Understand and express more complex emotional experiences
7. Form friendships that are mutually close and supportive
8. Establish key aspects of identity
9. Meet the demands of increasingly mature roles and responsibilities
10. Renegotiate relationships with adults in parenting roles
REPORT: Download 101-page report on “The Five Basics of Parenting Adolescents” at http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/parenting/report.pdf
Most Needed Developmental Assets for Adolescents
Includes percentage of the youth surveyed by the Search Institute have this asset in their lives. See search-institute.org
TWO-THIRDS OF TEENS ARE MISSING NINE NEEDS: Less than 30% of youths surveyed had these assets in their lives. If you want to make a difference in our families, our community, our people and our future, find a way to contribute to the teens in your family or community. Here are the nine out of 40 Assets most lacking for our youth:
NEEDED EXTERNAL ASSETS:
1. 26% Positive family communication
2. 24% Caring school climate
3. 29% Parent involvement in schooling
4. 20%Community values youth
5. 24% Youth as resources
6. 27% Adult role models
7. 19% Creative activities
NEEDED INTERNAL ASSETS:
8. 24% Reading for pleasure
9. 29% Planning and decision making.
Please note: what our youth lack and need most are Creative Activities.
Descriptions from The Search Institute of the Most Needed Assets
3 Assets for Support: 26% Positive family communication: Young person and her or his parent (s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents. 24% Caring school climate—School provides a caring, encouraging environment. 29% Parent involvement in schooling—Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.
3 Assets for Empowerment: 20%Community values youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth. 24% Youth as resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community. 1 Asset for Boundaries and Expectations: 27% Adult role models: parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
1 Asset for Constructive Use of Time: 19% Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
1 Asset for Commitment to Learning: 24% Reading for pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
1 Asset for Social Competencies: 29% Planning and decision making: Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
The 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents (ages12-18) as well as younger age groups:
The Search Institute has identified these building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible. See www.search-institute.org 800-888-7828
RECOMMENDED BOOK: I highly recommend this marvelous book if you want something practical written for teens and which is equally helpful to adults who want to assist teenagers. It is organized around the 40 Developmental Assets with facts, case histories, instructions, resources and tips for readers (written for teens to use themselves) on: What Teens Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Shape Your Own Future by Peter L. Benson, Ph.D., Judy Galbraith, M.A., and Pamela Espeland from www.freespirit.com.
FIVE PARENTING COMPONENTS: Of course, they have also written an edition for What Kids Need to Succeed. The Five Basics of Parenting Adolescents Broadly speaking, the five components of the parenting role that emerge from research can be organized as:
(1) offering teens love and connection;
(2) monitoring teen behavior and well-being;
(3) offering guidance, including negotiating and setting limits;
(4) providing information and consultation for understanding, interpreting, and navigating the larger world, through a process of modeling and ongoing dialogue; and
(5) providing and advocating for resources, including other caring adults.
Recommendations for Future Work from Harvard:
NATIONAL REPORT: The following information is excerpted by Heather Carlile from the report by Rae Simpson, “Raising Teens: A Synthesis of Research and a Foundation for Action,” produced by the Harvard Center or Health Communication and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which seeks to address the gap in our understanding about the role of the mass media in parenting education.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION about the report: Download 101-page report at www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/parenting The MIT Center for Work, Family & Personal Life.
To learn more about the report’s author: A. Rae Simpson, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 77 Massachusetts Avenue Room 16-151 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 Telephone: 617-253-1592 Fax: 617-253-2609 E-mail: email@example.com
IGNORANCE OF STRONG FINDINGS: Many parents and mentors of adolescents are largely not aware that well-established research findings exist, let alone what they might be. Even some of the most basic principles that are reaching parents and policy makers regarding young children—about brain development, about abuse, about the role of parents—are in general not reaching parents of adolescents, policy makers, and even the practitioners working with adolescents and families. What can be done?
BRIDGES PLEASE: We must build much more effective bridges among all those who are addressing the raising of teenagers. We must promote an exchange of information among researchers, parents, practitioners, and policy makers, so that each group benefits from the others’ feedback. We must create more effective means of consolidating information, making it available, and conveying it back and forth; and we must support the senders, the synthesizers, and the seekers within each group. Together, we can make this work. How can we do it?
MEDIA: Conduct media initiatives to disseminate widely the bottom-line messages on parenting adolescents about which there is widespread research agreement. Getting the Message Out The task of getting messages of this kind to the people who need them is a complex one, but many precedents demonstrate that it can be done with proper planning, collaboration, expertise, resources, evaluation, and time, as summarized in this Project’s previous report.
Well-designed campaigns have been successful in influencing public attitudes and behaviors on a number of public health issues, including parenting issues such as child abuse and infant health.
THOSE RAISING TEENS: In this case, an essential component of the planning process will be research on the diverse and complex target audience of parents and others raising teenagers: what they know, what they would like to know, and how they would prefer to learn it. This Project has uncovered a number of studies of parents’ attitudes and behaviors toward teens and family life.
COLLABORATION: Also essential to media initiatives in this area is a multifaceted and collaborative approach, integrating a variety of strategies to target the great diversity of audiences that is involved in raising adolescents and shaping programs and policies that impact them. Ultimately, entertainment as well as advertising and informational media should be more engaged in this effort, given the many ways in which teens and families are portrayed in entertainment and news information and identified as a special target for advertising.
SUPPORT VS UNDERMINING PARENTS: Particularly important in the planning and evaluation of campaigns regarding parenting issues is monitoring to assure that messages do not have a “boomerang” effect, in which parents feel blamed, anxious, or demoralized because they are being asked to shoulder responsibilities that require more support and/or must be shared by the larger society. In other words, the planning of such campaigns needs to be based not only on research about adolescence, parenting, and effective communications, but also on research about what actually supports, rather than undermines, parents in their efforts to be better parents.
Strengths in the Media’s Role
NEED MORE THAN PRINT MEDIA: Parenting has become a staple among topics in many print media. Parenting books, magazines, and regional controlled-circulation papers, as well as child and family beat reporters at major newspapers, have increased dramatically. Almost every parent is exposed to printed information about parenting, many repeatedly. Parenting initiatives within the electronic media are expanding. In particular, rapid growth is occurring in public television, cable television, local news, and the internet, and new developments are occurring on the commercial networks as well.
PARENTS ARE SEARCHING: The demand for media information among parents is substantial and increasing. By a number of measures, many parents have a high level of interest in information about child-rearing, including information from the mass media, on a broad range of topics. The extent to which particular parents are reached, however, varies according to a number of important factors, including age, gender, communication skills and style, cultural and language preferences, and economic resources. The preponderance of professional opinion, supported by theory and research, is that the media, as part of a complex set of factors, can and does have a significant impact on parents and parenting.
MEDIA DRAWBACKS: Weaknesses in the Media’s Role On the other hand, a number of drawbacks seriously undermine the ability of the media to contribute effectively to the well-being of parents and families. Of these drawbacks, four are especially important:
NO CENTRAL ACCESS: Easily accessible sources of information for the media on parenting topics are scarce and scattered. Contributing in particular to the inaccessibility of information is the fact that researchers and resources related to parenting are embedded in hundreds of organizations and dozens of disciplines, with no centralized access to information.
ADVICE CONFUSING & CONFLICTING: Parenting advice conveyed by the media is often confusing and conflicting. Parents of adolescents receive less information and support from the media than parents of younger children. The relative inattention to the parenting of adolescents occurs in spite of the fact that adolescents have unique and critical developmental needs, and the failure to meet those needs create serious risks for adolescents, families, and society. Parents play a critical role in influencing outcomes for teenagers, but they often lack the information and support to do so effectively.
TEENS NEED TO BE CONNECTED TO PARENTS: Exacerbating the problem are negative images of teenagers in the news and entertainment media, and misleading cultural messages suggesting that parents are not important in the teen years. Entertainment television has been largely overlooked as a source of influences on parenting and as a vehicle for supporting and informing parents. What little is known about parenting in entertainment programming is mixed, both reassuring and troubling, and attempts to influence them largely untried.
SEE: Hold On to Your Kids: They Need You More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, PhD and Gabor Mate, MD. neufeldinstitute.org
CONSENSUS-BUILDING CONFERENCES: Strengthen the knowledge base about parenting, in particular by holding consensus-building conferences. It is widely agreed that the time has come to bring together professionals from a broad range of disciplinary and cultural perspectives in order to consolidate, integrate, and analyze both research and practical knowledge about parenting. It would be important for both researchers and practitioners to be represented in the discussions, as well as the media, policy makers, advocates, and parents themselves. The degree of consensus that has been achieved in recent initiatives, such as information on early brain development prepared for the “I Am Your Child” Campaign, illustrates the potential for this kind of process. Implement a comprehensive, integrated communications strategy to disseminate the emerging consensus about parenting in ongoing and targeted ways. Information emerging from clarification and consensus about the importance of parenting and of particular parenting practices will only be as effective as its dissemination.
NEED PERMANENT RESOURCE CENTER: A carefully planned and executed communications strategy is needed to ensure that, as it emerges, the information reaches parents, media, advocates, policy makers, and professionals who work with parents, such as parenting educators, health care providers, early childhood educators, teachers, and mental health providers. Within the strategy, special attention also needs to be paid to the areas where there are gaps in current media efforts. This can be accomplished by designing and implementing special initiatives to target parents who are not effectively reached by current media efforts, including parents of adolescents; to engage media that are not being effectively utilized, especially entertainment media; and to create a permanent resource center to make information accessible to the media and others in an ongoing way.
CURATED KNOWLEDGE BASE NEEDED: In other words, this report recommends that significant attention be given to the coherence and the accessibility of the knowledge base about parenting, as well as to a few major gaps in the media’s attention to parenting. The stage is set to take media initiatives in parenting education to a higher level, one that enhances significantly the media’s ability to support and inform parents, and to reinforce and extend existing efforts on behalf of today’s parents, children, and families. In nearly every category of mass media, from books and magazines to television and the internet, messages are being directed to parents to an unprecedented degree. Yet little attention has been given to the quantity of quality of those messages, or to their impact on parents or parenting. Similarly, little attention has been given to the opportunities offered by the media to have greater and more positive impact on parents and on the growing parenting education movement at a time when, by all accounts, such support is badly needed.
Newest and Best Resources:
Harvard School of Public Health *Simpson, A. Rae. Raising Teens: A Synthesis of Research and a Foundation for Action. Project on the Parenting of Adolescents, Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health. 2001.
HARVARD/STANFORD REPORT: Download 101-page report at www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/parenting Helping America’s Youth.
US Government Resources and National Programs List: http://guide.helpingamericasyouth.gov/programtool.cfm The
PREVENT UNPLANNED PREGNANCY: Ten Tips for Parents to Help Their Children Avoid Teen Pregnancy from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. www.thenationalcampaign.org www.stayteen.org www.teenpregnancy.org
PPE: Practical Parent Education, Plano, Texas. Over 70 programs and 100 parenting tip sheets. www.practicalparent.org Search Institute publishes a catalog of material for all ages.
SEARCH INSTITUTE: Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets® for Teens are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities essential to raising successful young people. These assets have the power during critical adolescent years to influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults.
See The Five Action Strategies for Transforming Communities and Society: Creating a World Where All Young People Are Valued and Thrive. www.search-institute.org
Newest and Best Publications: Benson, Ph.D., Peter L., Judy Galbraith, M.A., and Pamela Espeland. What Teens Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Shape Your Own Future. Search Institute and Free Spirit Publishing. Minneapolis, MN. 1998. (Adopted by DISD.)
Cline, Foser, MD, and Fay, Jim. Parenting Teens with Love & Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood. Pinion Press, Colorado Springs, CO. 1992, 2006.
Eberstadt, Mary. Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes. New York, Penguin Sentinel. 2004.
Kurcinka, Mary Sheedy. Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook. 1998. __________________.
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic. 1998.
National Clearing House on Families and Youth. Including Guide to Starting a Youth Program. US Department of Health and Human Services. www.ncfy.com
Nelson, Ed.D., Jane. Positive Discipline: The classic guide to helping children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem-solving skills. Ballentine Books, New York. 1981, 2006.
________________, Lynn Lott, M.A., M.F.T., and H. Stephen Glenn. Positive Discipline: A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems, Revised. Random House, New York. 1993, 1999.
Nolte, Ph.D., Dorothy Law and Harris, Ph.D., Rachel. Teenagers Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Integrity and Independence, New York, Workman Publishing Company. 2002.
Nowinski, Ph.D., Joseph. The Identity Trap: Saving Our Teens from Themselves. New York, AMACOM. 2007.
Pearson, Carol. Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World. Harper Collins, NY. 1991. www.acs.appstate.edu
Pieper, Martha Heineman, Ph.D., and William J. Pieper, M.D. Smart Love: The Compassionate Alternative to Discipline that Will Make You a Better Parent and Your Child a Better Person. The Harvard Common Press, Boston, MA. 1999.
Pollack, Ph.D., William. Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. Henry Holt and Company, New York. 1998.
Popov, Linda Kavelin with Popov, Ph.D., Dan, and Kavelin, John. The Family Virtues Guide:Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves. New York, Plume. 1997.
Riera, Michael. Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. 1995, 2004.
Wagle, Elizabeth, The Enneagram of Parenting: The 9 Types of Children and How to Raise Them Successfully. San Francisco, Harper Collins, 1997.
West, Diana. The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization. New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2007.
* See Strategies on pages 6 through 11 from the report on Raising Teens at www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/parenting
Children are like kites. You spend years trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you are both breathless…they crash…they hit the roof…you patch, comfort, and assure them that someday they will fly. Finally they are airborne. They need more string, and you keep letting it out. They tug, and with each twist of the twine, there is a sadness that goes with joy. The kite becomes more distant, and you know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as it is meant to soar–free and alone. Only then do you know that you have done our job. ~Erma Bombeck