Category Archives: At Risk Youth

The Anatomy of Structure

Whether a child realizes it or not, a structured home is a true blessing. Those that have it take it for granted and those that lack it usually experience high levels of stress and drama.  The degree of the chaos will be determined by the values and morals that the adults have imparted on their offspring.

To be effective, the structured environment must include boundaries and consequences, words and actions, and, most importantly, both parents must be of one accord. If a boundary is violated there must be a consequence. Words that lack action are merely hollow ideals. And a mom and a dad working as a team are a force of nature.

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The Value of Structure

Structure is vital to all children, even during their summer school break. As parents we struggle with the notion of our little darlings having no down time to just be kids. But letting them sleep in until noon just because school is out is not a good plan either. Sure summer time should about fun for everyone, but just like adults need to have a balance so they can work and do other necessary things such as housework, so too a kid needs balance as well.

Athletes, are perhaps, the best example. They are usually have the busiest schedules, even during the summer time, they are usually excellent time managers and they usually make up 90% of the honor role. Do they have time to play? Of course they do. And they usually do it while maintaining balance.

The Role Model

Parents are always role models. You are a generation ahead of your offspring and therefore are always in the next phase of life. However, it is important that you behave your age and fulfill your role properly.

The age of your children is irrelevant. They will always look up to you. You don’t have to know everything about present day technology. It is your wisdom they seek. Whether you are a good or a bad role model is your choice.

Surviving the Great Uprising

Adolescence will seem, for most parents, like the time of the great uprising. Herein, all the moral values you have taught and modeled will matter the most. The opposite is also true. The values you failed to teach and model will come back to haunt you.

As in the case of one mother who asked me during the question and answer session, after I gave a speech, what she should do since she had never set down any rules for her child. The short answer: set some rules and hang on for the ride. The long answer: WW III is about to begin at your place. Good luck.

Courtroom Advice

Appearing before a judge with a bad attitude will most certainly not produce the results you expected. As incredulous as it may seem, there are those who actually have appeared in court with an attitude and expected the matter to be resolved in their favor.

Once I remember a young man grumbling out loud that he needed to go. He was in a hurry. So the judge called his case, relieved him of his driving privileges and sent him on his way. Another time a woman slammed the door on her way out and was quickly escorted back into the courtroom. She stayed the night a guest of the county jail.

Speak Directly

Speaking directly to a teen does not mean it is a negative conversation. It will prepare them for the world. Too often I hear adults, mostly  parents, skirting an uncomfortable issue for the sake of their teen’s feelings. While we should never attack and insult we should also call death, death. We should call an overdose, an overdose.

The world and its ways do not care what bothers you or your child. Over protecting them from facing reality does not prepare them for it. If anything it places a false veil over the actual events. The best way to deal with the grim realities that accompany a tragedy it to call it as it is.

To Read or Not to Read

Reading is perhaps the most vital skill which all youth must possess. And yet the vast majority of the young men I have mentored do not read. Some, very few at that, become avid readers later in life once the school of hard knocks has dealt them some serious lessons. But could this be the great deterrent to those hard knocks?

We will never know. In most cases, they have had no example of the benefits of reading or of books in their lives. Most of the homes I have ventured into are devoid of books. Children that read are usually the offspring of parents who value reading. It will difficult to be a student of life without an interest in reading.