Thoughtful Parenting: What is right with you?
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — I have a question. Do you have a trait that could be portrayed as a strength and simultaneously a weakness? For me, it is that I have a lot to say — verbose, talkative, extroverted, verbal processor — I have heard it called all sorts of things, including disruptive. At times, it has presented challenges, boundaries have been crossed; coworkers frustrated; parents angered. There it is: the “what is wrong with you?”
When I was a teen, my big mouth got me in trouble regularly. I eventually went to my mom to talk (she was psyched as she was never the recipient of my blathering). She told me she wished she could speak like I do. I was stunned — for once speechless. My mother told me that I speak up for myself, I do not get walked all over, people know what is on my mind, and I can ask for what I want. She told me my skill was invaluable, and I could practice getting better at it. There it is: the strength. The perspective I could not see for myself after years of hearing and believing it was a bad trait.
Helping youth reframe and encouraging them to hone skills will certainly get you further than an insult and will help your mentality, as well. Seeing and pointing to young people’s strengths as well as our own and working towards a better version of those strengths can help youth see the adults in their life as an ally and increase self-esteem. For the Star Wars fans, think Jedi — the master doing the training can train the Jedi to use the force (their strength) for good or to turn to the dark side.
Best news is there is a whole practice and training around this topic that you can access in Routt County for free. Contact me if you are interested in learning more, called positive youth development.
Read the following pairings. Think about how you and the kids in your life would prefer to be seen: Sensitive or in touch with your emotions? Rowdy or full of energy? Argumentative or thoughtful and curious?
Adults, it is our responsibility to help shape how youth see themselves. I encourage you to support the development of their and your strengths into a power used for good. May the Force be with you.
Carlyn Lawatsch is the youth programs manager for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the Board President of Routt County Youth Services Coalition. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is a nonprofit that links community, education and environment through service and civic engagement. Carlyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit rockymountainyouthcorps.org for more information.
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